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Pickering College names winner, finalists in Capstone Project

Michaela Morra was named the winner

On Friday, May 6, Pickering College hosted a pitch competition, the culminating project for the school’s Grade 12 students who spend their year taking action on the solution they have identified for their Capstone Project.

Every project is unique and students are supported in shaping their solution through university-level research workshops, debates, meetings with mentors and industry experts. The program concludes with the Capstone Project pitch day where students present their solutions to panels of teachers and professionals. Congratulations to this year’s finalists, including: 

Michaela Morra (Winner)

Capstone Project: Music Can Awaken the Brain

Action plan: Improving quality of life for dementia patients using music therapy, by developing a sustained music therapy student volunteer program where they create music playlists on donated devices that stay with patients.

David Fu (Finalist)

Capstone Project: The Mental Health Condition of the Empty-Nest Elderly

Action Plan: David founded Senior Living, a student-run organization that aims to expand the social network for rural empty nesters in China and provides them with personalized assistance by matching them with volunteers.

Ruby Tomlinson (Finalist)

Capstone Project: Protecting Snapping Turtles and their Habitat

Action Plan: Educating primary school students with age-appropriate information about Snapping Turtles. Expanding that presentation to be geared towards community members and cottagers.

Jake Wu (Finalist)

Capstone Project: How Might We Alleviate the High-Level Academic Stress for Chinese High School Students

Action Plan: Creating a concept for an app called “Ed-Lesendic” (which means reciprocal) that pairs Canadian students who need volunteer hours with Chinese students learning English wanting to practice. He beta tested the concept using Zoom.

Emma Zhang (Finalist)

Capstone Project: Save the Geese, Save the Food Web

Action Plan: Emma created an art piece using 1630 broken feather birdies to spread awareness of the need to decrease their use in Badminton, as they are often cruelly plucked from live geese.

“We are so proud of our entire Grade 12 class – they have all completed important projects where they take ideas to real action.  The collective impact this group has made on their community is astounding,” says Julia Hunt, Senior Director, Strategic Innovation.

In addition to Head of School Peter Sturrup, Pickering College welcomed two external panelists who listened to the finalists’ pitches, asked thoughtful questions and helped to determine the overall winner.

Arden Krystal is the President and CEO of Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont. Prior to her arrival at Southlake, Arden held senior executive operations roles at two of the largest health authorities in British Columbia. Arden started her career as a registered nurse in medical and surgical oncology. She has a bachelor of science degree in nursing (hon) and a master of health administration, both from the University of British Columbia, and completed the managing health delivery certificate program at Harvard University.

Chris Emanuel currently serves as the president and CEO of the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce. Over the course of his career Chris has held many leadership roles, including three terms as a councillor in Newmarket, Ont. He has served as Chair of the Central York Fire Services, and he was honored to be elected by his municipal colleagues in Ontario to sit on the Board of Directors for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

“I was so impressed with not only the ideas put forward by the students, but, the impact they would have on the broader society. Young people have such optimism and passion to change things for the better, we all need to do our part in supporting these initiatives. The students have so much to be proud of and I suspect they’ll be changemakers in our world,” says Emanuel.

As the winner of the pitch competition, Michaela received $1,000 to allocate to a not-for-profit organization aligned with her Capstone Project, with the runnerups receiving $250 each. Thank you to GDI Integrated Facilities Services for sponsoring the donations to be made by the finalists.