Team BellaDonna Reports on Grad Caps

As Sabrina Thompson writes in her section, it can be a lonely feeling being one of a sea of caps. To show off their personalities and individualism, many students decorate their graduation caps, as seen here in a sea of red caps and gowns:

Cal Poly students are no different. Meanings can vary, and the popular trend has picked up steam, with Pinterest in particular going crazy for cap ideas. As members of our reporting team were thinking of their own cap ideas, the idea surfaced to feature the tradition and investigate what Cal Poly students were doing for Graduation 2019!

The topic wasn’t a controversial one, and as such it was easier to find sources. Sabrina, Olivia, James and I all met with students decorating their caps and documented the process, including one girl who had sent hers off to be professionally decorated. The trend is a huge business on Etsy, with caps going for as little as $5 and as expensive as $99 to be decorated. Sometimes, in the case of one student interviewed, materials were paid for and sent and assembled by the student. Every source showed us a new angle, a new meaning behind decorating their grad cap.

Some students want to show off their skills, like an engineering student Sabrina interviewed who wants to wire her cap with flashing lights! Electrical engineering senior Lauren Williams on her cap:

“Basically it’s supposed to be a flashing thing on the top that says ByEE, like bye,” Williams said. “The EE is going to stay on the whole time because we are EEs (electrical engineers) and the “B” and “y” will flash on and off. We wanted to do a fun EE project,” Williams said.

Other students have used their caps as platforms for protest, such as the Title IX protests in 2014, shown here:

Photo Credit: Daphne Xu, Storify

In 2018, Cal Poly graduates protested the Title IX investigation processes at their own university, but alas, a photographer didn’t catch them.

Whatever students were doing with their caps, they were excited to be doing it and to talk to us. There were those, mostly men, who had decided not to do anything, and as a result many sources are female. It made for a light, fun story, one that we were all happy to work on:

“This project was a perfect end to a great quarter with this group! We turned out some cool content and this wrapped it all in a nice bow.” – James Hayes, Multimedia Editor

“This was one of the easiest but also most insightful stories from my time here!” – Sabrina Thompson, Word Editor

“It was super fun working on a topic that wrapped up the quarter in a light and positive way.” – Olivia Vort, Video Editor

At this point, the team worked like a well-oiled machine. We all knew our roles, and assisted, attended and helped each other where necessary. it was a seamless reporting process, a rare thing. After everything was rough drafted, it was time to go into the editing process, which we all participated in for all media. Personally, it was one of the first times I’ve been a part of a team that supported each other and got over bumps in the first few cycles, unifying to create truly good content in the end. It was also one of the first times I’ve seen journalism people with such different skill sets mesh together well, and understand each other. A great capstone class to my time at Cal Poly.

Time to go graduate, decorated cap and all! Wonder what we’ll see?