Capstone:An Exploration Into the Importance of Voice

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My capstone exploration is a blend of two experiences wherein I believe that the importance of using your voice is emphasized. The first element of my capstone was to co-teach TSAS's novice speech and debate class alongside Mrs. Hughes. The second element was the continuation of my work with the non-profit organization Poetic Justice, which teaches incarcerated women poetry. These two experiences inspired me to develop a project of my own creation. While attending college, I plan to teach incarcerated women speech and debate using what I learned in both of my capstone projects to guide my project design and implementation.

Sophie O'Reilly 2020
House Liberal Arts
Advisor Kate Hughes
Plans Hendrix College, Creative Writing, Data Analysis
Advice There are going to be moments of frustration with essentially any project you attempt; don't let those moments prevent you from finding solutions and making progress on your work. Additionally, while you are first trying to land on a project idea, try to ensure that you are working on something that you are wholeheartedly passionate about. It's okay to change your mind about what you want to pursue, but you'll change your mind a lot less if it something you really love learning about.
Type Presentation
Subject Voice, Speaking truth, Advocacy
Discipline Language Arts

How It Began

Originally, I proposed teaching incarcerated women speech and debate as my documented capstone experience. I planned on teaching two units—a beginner and an advanced class—that met once a week at either David L. Moss Correctional Center in Tulsa or Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud.

How It Changed

My capstone experiences ended up being a blend of non-profit work and teaching. While it didn't follow my initial proposal, what I learned throughout my experience has informed elements of how I am approaching the speech and debate program for incarcerated women. Overall, I decided that I wanted experience (1) teaching, and (2) in prisons before I committed to trying both at the same time. Using this time as an opportunity to verify my interest in these areas have helped me to better structure my end product. I plan to pilot the program through my college's project design system. This way, I can collaborate with faculty and pilot the program with the support of my university.


One of my takeaways from my capstone—and senior year as a whole—is to define what your limits are and to be realistic and flexible with your expectations for yourself. Sometimes, what seems like a "waste of time" can end up being fundamental in how you move forward. The capstone experience taught me to step away from my frustrations on difficult days and look at the bigger picture. This mindset helped me to position myself so that, when I hit roadblocks to implementing my debate program in Oklahoma, I was able to transition with ease and still learn and feel fulfilled by the work I was doing. I'm excited to begin my implementation work in Arkansas!