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About Carthage

5 Minutes with Suzie Stevenson

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

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Department: Chemistry
Title: Assistant Professor
Best Office Artifact: Toonces the driving cat 

Professor Suzie Stevenson combines her love of chemistry and cookies to connect with her students and teach them the language of organic chemistry.

Prof. Stevenson is also a 2019 SURE faculty mentor and hopes students find the same value in undergraduate research and passion for chemistry that she experienced as an undergrad.

After her first year at Carthage, we sat down with Prof. Stevenson to learn more while discussing her thoughts and experiences so far.

How did you become interested in chemistry?

“I first became interested in chemistry in high school. When I started college, though, I wasn’t completely sure that I wanted to be a chemistry major. It wasn’t until I took organic chemistry my sophomore year that I realized my passion for chemistry. It was funny because everyone had warned me that organic chemistry was going to be awful, but it turned out to be my favorite class.”

What was the journey to becoming a professor at Carthage like? Why did you choose Carthage?

“I’ve followed a pretty conventional career path to becoming a professor at Carthage. I went straight from college to graduate school to a post-doctoral research position to Carthage. I chose Carthage because I wanted to teach at a liberal arts college that valued teaching as well as undergraduate research—and the lake view is a plus.”

How have you pushed students outside of their comfort zones?

“Organic chemistry is a subject that naturally pushes students outside their comfort zones because it is a type of chemistry that most students have never seen before. Some people even equate learning organic chemistry to learning a new language. Once students overcome that initial language barrier, that’s when organic chemistry starts to get fun.”

This summer you are participating in the SURE program. What do you hope students take away from their work with you?

“The main thing that I hope my students take away from their summer research experience is the ability to think like a chemist. This includes learning skills like searching the chemical literature and designing meaningful experiments and analyzing the results. I also hope that they come to appreciate that they are conducting research on the cutting edge of modern organic chemistry, which is exciting!”

 

• • •

“Undergraduate research is an invaluable experience for students at Carthage. In chemistry, for example, you can take a hundred different classes to learn about chemistry, but research is where you learn how to be a chemist.”

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With your extensive research background, how valuable do you feel faculty-mentored undergraduate research is for Carthage students? Thinking back, how influential were your own research opportunities throughout your education and career?

“Undergraduate research is an invaluable experience for students at Carthage. In chemistry, for example, you can take a hundred different classes to learn about chemistry, but research is where you learn how to be a chemist. My own research experience as an undergraduate is what helped solidify my love for chemistry. It ultimately set me on a path to becoming a professor at Carthage where now I can provide an undergraduate research experience for future generations of students.”

What are some hobbies or interests you have that may be surprising to students?

“My main hobby is baking, but that probably is not a surprise for students since I make cookies for my classes a few times a semester. Some things that students may not know are that I played softball in college. I also enjoy playing ragtime on the piano and traveling.”

What advice do you have for new or prospective students interested in chemistry?

“My advice is: if you think you like chemistry, take a few chemistry classes and learn more. Chemistry is an important subject because it helps us understand the world, and the world needs more people who understand chemistry.”

Is there anything else you would like to add about your work or time at Carthage? 

“Everything about my first year at Carthage has exceeded expectations—my first classes of students have been amazing and the faculty and staff have been incredibly helpful and supportive. I’m looking forward to year two!”

— Interview by Madeline Paakkonen ’21

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), 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 $22,000 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 No. 3 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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