Shelby Schwerdtfeger

Class Year



Wonder Lake, Illinois





Shelby Schwerdtfeger has been pleasantly surprised by the amount of experiences, research opportunities, and achievements she has been a part of as a neuroscience major at Carthage.  With Carthage’s small class sizes and close professor-student relationships, Shelby has been able to work closely with the Neuroscience Department’s faculty and students to improve her skills in data collection and analysis. She also works as a genetics lab assistant and tutor.

Actively involved in her field outside of the lab as well, Shelby participates in Neuroscience Club, Biology Club, Tri-Beta, and Gamma Nu Sigma.

In the future, Shelby hopes to become a pediatric physician assistant after finishing graduate school. She encourages new neuroscience students to “enjoy the time and take advantage of all the opportunities. Neuroscience is an advancing field with countless things that have yet to be discovered, so keep your minds open!”

Career goal

“After graduation, I plan to attend a graduate school physician assistant program with the intent of becoming a physician assistant in the field of pediatrics.”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

“All of the professors in the Neuroscience Department have helped me along the way. Dr. Daniel Miller, has pushed me to understand research and given me opportunities that aren’t available at every college. Dr. Paul Martino of the biology department has always opened his door to me, challenged me in classes, and pushes me to reach my goals in achieving my prerequisites for physician assistant school. Dr. Qinzi Ji of the biology department has given me the opportunity to help lead labs and aid in students learning.”

Favorite class

“My favorite classes at Carthage are the Neuroscience Research Methods with Dr. Miller. These classes, also called Rat Lab, allowed me to practice data collection and data analysis in research that is not offered at every undergraduate college. Another one of my favorite classes so far has been Genetics with Dr. Dan Choffnes. This class was tough but I really enjoyed the material and the topics covered in the class.”

Campus involvement

“On campus I’m part of the honors biology club Tri-Beta , the honors Neuroscience club Gamma Nu Sigma, Neuroscience club, Biology club, Pre-Health Club, and I work as both a Lab assistant for genetics and a tutor for genetics.”

Toughest class

“So far my toughest class at Carthage has been Genetics. The class requires a lot of your time and the topics can be hard to understand at first. The oral exams were a first for me so getting use to that was not easy. But overall, I really enjoyed the class.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“Some of my favorite moments at Carthage have been Cafs-giving, meetings with neuroscience club, and meeting friends with common interests that I’ll have forever.”

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite spot on campus is on the 2nd floor of the David A. Straz, Jr. Center at the tables by the back offices. The space allows you to easily access professors and typically has many fellow students around to discuss class topics with.”

Biggest surprise so far

“The biggest surprise for me so far was the opportunities available to me on campus. From my start in the Neuroscience Department, I saw how the professors and fellow students are genuinely interested in other students academic and career growth.”

What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?

“When I was 8-years-old I was always wondering how things worked and happened, which is what drove my interest in science. I was always trying to take care of animals when I was younger so I’ve always had an interest in healthcare. I think my 8-year-old self would be proud of the path I took to help treat individuals in need.”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“The advice I would give to those considering a neuroscience major would be to never be afraid to ask for help. The professors of the Neuroscience Department are always willing to help and guide you in any way. Also, take advantage of the opportunities available at Carthage. Whether it be lab assisting, tutoring, or participating in undergraduate research, you’ll gain experience that some students never gain in there undergraduate years elsewhere.”

Why Carthage?

“The main reason I choose Carthage was the campus size. I wanted a smaller campus with small class sizes for more one-on-one time with professors. Carthage also offered great research opportunities and a beautiful view that was close to home.”