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About Carthage

5 Minutes with Cassie Lau

Take a peek inside Prof. Lau’s office on Instagram!

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Department: Economics
Title:   Chair, Accounting and Finance Department; Associate Professor of Accounting and Finance, and Economics
Best Office Artifact: Bull and bear bookends

After a successful career on Wall Street, economics professor Cassie Lau traded the streets of New York City for the Lake Michigan shoreline at Carthage.  

Professor Lau held positions such as assistant treasurer, vice president, senior director, and managing director for a variety of companies throughout her career in New York. In the classroom, Professor Lau enriches her lessons with examples and real-world situations from her extensive economics experiences.  

As a teacher of Accounting and Finance, and Economics, Professor Lau continues to surprise students with knowledge in and outside the classroom. She encourages them to be open and take advantage of office hours. They may learn something they never expected, like Professor Lau’s attempt at dragon boating for example. 

We sat down with Professor Lau to learn more about why she chose Carthage, what she hopes for her students and more of her surprising interests. 

How did you become interested in accounting and finance? 
“I majored in economics in college and at that time the large banks had training programs; I needed a job, I applied and was accepted. Trainees were encouraged to take several banking/ finance courses. I took one and found it interesting, so I decided to get my MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business in their evening program which cemented my interest in finance.”  

What was your journey to becoming a professor at Carthage like? Why did you choose Carthage? 
“I worked on Wall Street for several years and was looking for a change around the time of the financial crisis. Finance was getting a really bad name and I decided I’d like to be involved in showing people how to use finance for productive, honest outcomes. I went back to school to earn a Ph.D. and came across Carthage while interviewing after finishing my degree. I fell for the size, the lake, and the opportunity to teach in economics and finance.”

 

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Through my work, I learned how to balance providing support while challenging individuals to figure out solutions with teammates. I use similar skills to challenge our students.

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How have you pushed students outside of their comfort zones? 
“As part of my job I built and managed teams of professionals. That takes helping people find their strengths while working on their shortcomings. Through my work, I learned how to balance providing support while challenging individuals to figure out solutions with teammates. I use similar skills to challenge our students.”

Students often rave about your ability to intertwine personal experience into your lessons. How has your time in the banking and financial service industries in New York contributed to your teachings at Carthage?
“I become fully vested in what I’m doing and that enthusiasm hopefully carries over into my teaching.”

What are some hobbies or interests you have that may be surprising to students? 
“I love literature, art, and traveling; rock and roll, Motown, and opera. I tried out dragon boating, and I’m on a trivia team.”

What is your favorite class to teach? 
“I really enjoyed the Carthage Symposium on Ethical Dilemmas in Business and Life that I designed/taught this spring, but also enjoy Money & Banking, Corporate Finance, and Macroeconomics.”

 

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My best advice is to be open and try things out. Most things worth doing are not easy but when you are successful it is very rewarding.

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What advice do you have for new or prospective students interested in your Departments? Anything you wish you would have known as an undergrad?
My best advice is to be open and try things out. Take advantage of the fact that the finance and economics professors are at Carthage to provide guidance for students to find their passions, so reach out and get their insights. Most things worth doing are not easy but when you are successful it is very rewarding. Part of being an adult is making choices: decide on a few things to focus on and do them well, rather than joining a multitude of clubs and organizations.”

Is there anything else you would like to add about your work or time at Carthage? 
“Office hours are not just for when you’re struggling academically: drop by and get to know us.”

— Interview by Madeline Paakkonen ’21

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • Our athletes rank up some impressive stats. So does our fitness center. The N. E. Tarble Athletic and Recreation Center (better known as the TARC), is home to a 16-lane swimming pool, 200-meter indoor track, two racquetball courts, an indoor rock climbing wall, and a 5,000-square-foot fitness center.

    • Carthage fields 24 NCAA Division III sports, including basketball, football, lacrosse, volleyball, and water polo. Our varsity teams play in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin — regularly taking home hardware from one of the nation’s toughest Division III conferences.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …

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