SALT Scholar Capstone Project Descriptions


Nonprofit Volunteer Recruitment & Retention  

There are more than 40,000 people currently incarcerated throughout the state of Tennessee. The Tennessee Prison Outreach Ministry is a statewide organization that offers programming for the incarcerated, returning citizens and children of the incarcerated. The ministry focuses on holistic rehabilitation; addressing the spiritual, emotional, social and economic needs of those impacted by incarceration. This wide variety of programs throughout the state requires a strong volunteer base to support it. My project focused on creating a strategic plan to address this nonprofit organization’s desire for improved volunteer recruitment, participation and retention. I researched programs implemented by similar nonprofits to discover the most efficient communication tactics for enlisting and keeping active volunteers. I then made practical recommendations to be employed within the Tennessee Prison Outreach Ministry to allow the organization to work toward measurable objectives. The plan includes benchmark research, a suggested timeline and target demographic analysis. I also recommended specific evaluation methods to allow the organization to assess the value of its efforts.

Sarah Messer

Strategic Communications & Spanish

December 2016

Bridge Building in Rural Honduras  

Part of a mission team that, with the help of students, professors, and professional engineers, designed and installed a bridge in a remote area of Honduras. The project extended over about a year and a half and resulted in a 100+ foot bridge that provides a safe and vital connection between two schools. This much-needed bridge provides greatly improved safety for children traveling between an elementary and middle school, as they do not have to cross the busy highway at ground level now since the bridge spans the roadway. The children have to cross the road several times a day as the two schools share more expensive amenities such as computer rooms and a library. The project was done in partnership with Honduras Outreach International (HOI), and was successfully installed in the summer of 2015. Initial research and surveying of the site was completed by a small team of which I was a part. During the ensuing design work and eventual campus build I kept actively involved with the project. And even though I was unable to attend the actual setting of the bridge, the work and research that I did do in the area greatly impressed me through the amazing generosity and attitude from those who most Americans would think have so little. They were generous almost to a fault, and extremely welcoming to us during our stay there. And while there, we not only had the opportunity of doing work for the bridge that is currently installed, but we also were able to complete research on possible job sites in the future. The impact that we had on the community by our work there was largely reciprocated in that many of those involved with the work were affected deeply by the community’s response to us being there. Even though we helped the local people there with our skills, work, and final product, they also helped us in many ways to learn the beauty of life, and showed us that there is always cause to rejoice no matter how hard our lot in life.

Ezra Fritz

Mechanical Engineering

May 2016

Compassion Fatigue  

This research project was primarily a needs-assessment for The Next Door in Nashville, Tennessee. The project sought information regarding the need for compassion fatigue and self-care education and training at the agency. The agency serves women with substance addiction and their families. Overall, the results pointed clearly to the need for better education and training on self-care and compassion fatigue at the agency. The large majority of employees that took the survey did not know of any training on compassion fatigue or self care within the agency. Because of the population that the agency works with, it is important to educate employees to prevent them from experiencing burnout or compassion fatigue. This could help to lower staff turnover rates and improve the experience for clients.

Rachel Sarvak

Law, Justice, and Society 

December 2015


Relay for Life
Starting Lipscomb's first ever Relay for Life event

The American Cancer Society was begun 100 years ago this May to help victims of cancer fight for their lives and help their families fight with them. Their purpose is to celebrate life, fight back against the disease, and bring hope. Their key fundraiser, Relay For Life is the largest not-for-profit fundraiser in the world. There are over 6,000 world-wide in over 25 different countries. From city wide, to state wide, to school wide, Relays have been changing the histories of families and their loved ones by donating money to research, help centers, providing services for cancer victims and their families, and connecting people in relationship. This spring I had the honor of executive directing Lipscomb’s first ever Relay For Life. We laid the groundwork and built the required relationships for many years to come and are excited to see Relay grow into something quite magnanimous at Lipscomb. We raised over $28,000 this past February, making us the most successful inaugural college relay per capita in history—quite a statement revealing the character of Lipscomb’s own students. I decided to make Relay For Life my SALT scholar project when I found out that a “Relay Manual” detailing everything from events to contacts to suggestions to themes to a breakdown of responsibilities to budgets to a vision of the whole would be desperately needed and outrageously helpful for the ensuing Lipscomb Relays. By learning from our mistakes, keeping accurate records, and being innovative, I believe that we can be one of the most successful Relays despite our small numbers if we are passionate enough to make the sacrifices necessary to be apart of something truly good.

Cameron Gilliam

Molecular Biology

May 2013

Cameron Gilliam  
Non-Profit (Communications)
Assisting non-profits to effectively get their message out to the community
My capstone project was focused on assisting many non-profits with
their everyday communications work. Most non-profits around the area
do not have a communications budget and because of this, they are not
able to effectively get their message out to the community. I was able
to help Choral Arts Link and Soles4Souls through my program of study
in this way.
Kathryn-Claire Watts
Public Relations
May 2012
Working with the homeless population

I have worked with the homeless throughout Nashville, both in helping them through their current life situations as well as finding alternative means to helping those in our community. Following the flood, Nashville has been hotbed for homeless who continue to struggle on a day to day basis to survive. They need the simplest of things including fresh water, adequate nutrition, and sufficient shelter. Money is abundant in the city of Nashville, yet so is the homeless population. We must make donations and reach out to our representatives to see what we can do in our community to prevent the spread of homelessness among the less fortunate as well as help those who have already found themselves sleeping on the streets by night. These individuals are predominantly male (1/20 female), single, living in urban areas. Many of these individuals suffer from a mental illness in form or another, and many suffer from alcohol and/or substance abuse. For some, a struggle with mental illness and alcohol/substance abuse co-exist. A third of the homeless (adult) population is considered veterans. I have volunteered on multiple occasions at Room in the Inn to assist with this population and those who operate the facility. This is no doubt a life changing experience of which I would recommend to absolutely everyone. We have been blessed with good food, nice clothes, clean water, and comfortable places to reside; comforts that not all get to enjoy. We must make a difference in this population. To make a positive impact on this population, we can determine the need right here in our community. We need to involve others and participate in local homeless shelters, services, and coalitions. Donations can help such services. As with many social efforts, contacting elected officials may help push resources through selected services in our community.       

Conrad Beauchamp
Law, Justice & Society
May 2012


Seeking to replicate best practices in military officer training
A study of Vanderbilt University's ROTC program
My capstone project involved working with a local military organization in the community, specifically, the Vanderbilt Army Reserve Officer's Training Corps (ROTC).  The project consisted of an analysis of Vanderbilt's current successful ROTC program to determine its best practices.
Vanderbilt's program currently ranks number 2 in the nation.  I proposed that in order to continue the success in training future officers of the Army, it would be essential to find the reasons behind their success.  If the unit is to continue to attain the same level or go above the current level of success that is has previously attained, it must know what is working, what is not. 
Brandon Moss
Law, Justice & Society
May 2011
The eternal quest: volunteers
Researching recruitment & retention strategies for volunteers
For my capstone project I worked with the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity to develop a web-based volunteer registration system. I focused my thesis on the best practices and learning theories for training and retention of volunteers. 
Jessica Ohgren
May 2009