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The Aspire Program

Conference Program

The Aspire Conference begins with evening programming on Monday, Oct. 4, and continues through Wednesday, Oct. 6. As a participant in the conference, you can attend and interact in high-quality experiences led by nationally recognized industry experts, prominent alumni, and even some current Carthage students!

A confirmation email will be sent from Cadence, the conference platform, to give you access to sessions. Be sure to check your spam folder. 

Monday, Oct. 4

Swag Bar7-10 p.m.

Creative Space — Messy Fun!
Campbell Student Union
Looking for a chance to unwind, laugh, and engage within a casual environment (and eat free food and make tasty treats)?! Join us for a night of FREE FOOD! (Can you say tot-cho bar and candy sushi making?!) We will also have a SWAG BAR for you to create for own custom Carthage Firebird swag. It wouldn’t be a creative space without a little bit of messy fun. Life can get messy sometimes, but it doesn’t mean it can be fun. Hot Mess Studios, located just down the road, is providing a welcoming space to be your own artist. No judgements or critics — just enjoying the process of creating splatters and leave with your Jackson Pollock-inspired masterpiece.  Register for this event.
Tracks: Try Something New, Making Connections and Exploring Entrepreneurship

7-8 P.M.Hit Me Up Video

HMU: Hit Me Up
Campbell Student Union Auditorium
An original feature film written, directed and performed by Austin Winter ’18 and ’21, focusing on love and self worth in relation to his experience as a queer person of color. The short musical film features songs by independent and well-known artists.  Register for this session. 



8:30-9:30 P.M.Broadway

Meet the Masters - Feat. Carthage’s Master of Music Theater Vocal Pedagogy Students
Campbell Student Union Auditorium
Our music theatre graduate students will each be singing a music theatre piece - so you can just enjoy the music! Each one of our graduate students has powerful advice about life after undergraduate study - and you’ll want to connect with them! Tickets are FREE, but REQUIRED. Reserve your free ticket. 

Live stream is available for the concert.

Tuesday, Oct. 5

Red Chairs8-9:30 a.m.

Coffee Chat with your Career Specialist
Kissing Rock (rain location: Einstein’s)
Start off your day on the right foot with free breakfast (pancakes on a stick!) and connect with your career specialist to chat about your career and life development path and how they can help students on their journey. Register for this session.
Tracks: Making Connections, Building Professional Documents, Intercultural Development Plan, Telling Your Story, Securing Experiences, Exploring Entrepreneurship and Try Something New

10 A.M.-11 a.M.

Called to Lead: Stories of Women in Leadership — Melissa Burwell
Todd Wehr Center 128
The path to leadership for women is varied and complex. From sticky floors to shattered ceilings to navigating labyrinths, women are called to lead in different ways and in different stages throughout their careers. Through examining the stories and career journeys of 13 women leaders in student affairs, participants will reflect on their own leadership and the themes which emerged from the study participants. A discussion of the intersection of context, calling, gender, and a framework of stages of leadership will guide our reflection. Register for this session.


11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.Adrienne Hoyt

Uncharted — Adrienne Hoyt ’05
Todd Wehr Center Jockey Room
Lunch Provided

Adrienne (Saputo) Hoyt ’05 has had an unconventional career path, to say the least — one that has taken twists (planning a 2012 Newt Gingrich Super Tuesday Presidential Campaign stop) and turns (cleaning bathrooms in an airline hangar and literally running into uber-celebrity Adrien Brody on a red carpet). And she wouldn’t have it any other way. Enjoy a free lunch and learn about her uncharted journey of being a religion major at Carthage to the vice president of internal communications at CNN. Adrienne will explore going with your gut, taking risks, talking to strangers, and cultivating curiosity. Register for this session.
Tracks: Try Something New, Making Connections, Telling Your Story, Exploring Entrepreneurship

Students walking1-2 p.m.

Find Your Flock 
Todd Wehr Center 128
Hear from student leaders and notable alumni on how they built their social networks on campus that led to life-changing opportunities. The more actively engaged students are — with college faculty and staff, with other students, with the subject matter you are studying — the more likely you are to persist in your college studies and to achieve at higher levels. Register for this session.
Tracks: Try Something New, Making Connections, Telling Your Story

2:30-3:30 P.M.Carl Rapisarda '05

Embracing the Possibilities — Carl Rapisarda ’05
Todd Wehr Center Jockey Rooms
From an English major to an educational administrator, with stops in between as a theatre director and Harvard leadership institute grad, Carl Rapisarda ’05 will help students discuss their career paths and aspirations in small groups, and be given a series of tips and advice as they continue to explore their wide variety of career options. Register for this session.
Tracks: Try Something New, Securing Experiences, Telling Your Story, Making Connections, Building Professional Documents

3:30-4:30 P.M.Michelle Mehlis

LinkedIn Tips of the Trade — Michelle Mehlis
Todd Wehr Center 128
Join top recruiter, Michelle Mehlis, for an insider’s peek in how companies use LinkedIn and other tools to find their next great hire. Eighty percent of jobs are never event posted to a job search engine. The best time to build a web of professional connections is before you are in an active job search. Learn how to leverage the “hidden” network to make you stand out and enhance your odds amongst a sea of other applicants. Prior to the session, please develop a LinkedIn profile to maximize the impact of this session. Register for this session.
Tracks: Building Professional Documents, Making Connections, Telling Your Story

4:30-5:30 P.M.Marcus Knight

Self Made: A Path to Personal Growth — Marcus Knight ’05
Todd Wehr Center 128
Hear from nationally-recognized entrepreneur, Carthage alum, and black-owned business “turbocharger”, Marcus Knight. He will be taking participants on a deep dive into what is needed, pragmatically, to come out of school prepared for success by using 5 critical steps on how to think and act like an entrepreneur. Register for this session.
Tracks: Telling Your Story, Exploring Entrepreneurship


6-7 P.M.Jamin McGinnis

Live a Life of R&R: Renaissance & Revolution — Jamin McGinnis ’06
Todd Wehr Center Jockey Rooms
Light snacks and dessert provided
Explore how to not just fit in, but how to leave your mark on campus and beyond. This session will be an inspirational conversation on the importance of being involved in multiple orgs on and off campus, giving back to our communities, and how it is imperative we invest in ourselves first. The term “well-rounded” will be explored as we dive deep into finding the best version of ourselves. Register for this session.
Tracks: Making Connections, Intercultural Development Plan, Telling Your Story, Exploring Entrepreneurship, Try Something New


7:30-8:30 P.M.Janus Adams

Performing Arts Series Featuring Janus Adams
Campbell Student Union Auditorium
Janus Adams is a renowned scholar, producer, entrepreneur, writer, and speaker. With a focus on applying a historical perspective to current events, Ms. Adams specializes in African American and women’s history. She is the author of eleven books, including “Glory Days: 365 Inspired Moments in African American History,” which has reached over three million readers.

Her achievements also include being the author of over 500 essays, columns, and essays, and is the creator of BackPax (a children’s publishing company) and Harambee (the first national book club for African American literature). With her work being featured in “The New York Times,” “Newsday,” “USA Today,” “The Washington Post,” and more, Ms. Adams has positively and permanently altered the publishing landscape for readers and authors alike. As a speaker, Ms. Adams has been an on-air guest on networks such as ABC, CNN, Fox News, NBC’s “The Today Show,” and NPR. Read more about this event
Reserve your free tickets. Tracks: Intercultural Development Plan, Telling Your Story, Exploring Entrepreneurship, Try Something New

Wednesday, Oct. 6

Carolyn Serdar9:30-10:30 a.m.Carolyn Serdar

Prepare for the Fair! — Carolyn Serdar, Director of Employer Relations and Internships
Todd Wehr Center 128
Carthage will co-host the annual Fall Internship and Career Fair in a few weeks. Learn how to put your best foot forward and get hired for the career of your dreams! Employers and career specialists will provide some high-level tips and tricks on how to stand out at this career fair. Experts will provide you with individualized coaching on your resume and how to dress to impress. Whether you attend the Career Fair in person or virtually, you will leave this session ready to launch your new internship or career after graduation. Register for this session.
Tracks: Building Professional Documents, Making Connections, Telling Your Story, Securing Experiences, Exploring Entrepreneurship, Try Something New

Kevin Palmer10:30-11:30 a.m.

Oh, the Places You Didn’t Know You Could Go — Kevin Palmer, Director of ESports at Carthage College, and Jordan Ball ’23
Todd Wehr Center 128
From the time you are in middle school, there is an abundant pressure to pick and choose a career for the rest of your life, and begin preparing for it. This model is broken, and I’m here to tell you why. Join us to discuss creating opportunity, finding what makes you happy in your career, and pushing yourself to achieve it, even if it means being outside of the norm and your comfort zone. Register for this session.
Tracks: Making Connections, Telling Your Story, Exploring Entrepreneurship, Try Something New

Kate Colbert

Noon-1 p.m.

The Story of YOU: How Understanding and Sharing What Makes You Unique Can Create Happiness and Prosperity — Kate Colbert ’95
Todd Wehr Center Jockey Room
Lunch Provided
What’s your story? Can you tell it on a moment’s notice, does it make people sit up and listen, and does it set you apart from the crowd? Does it make you feel proud to be “the biologist who …” or “the fiction writer best known for …” or “the business professional whose passions include …” or “the nurse recently recognized as …”? You might be “just” a college student right now, but your career story is starting to write itself. It’s time to know how to tell it! Individuals who go from “aspiring” professionals to actual game-changers rarely get from here to there without a clear understanding of what makes them unique, how others perceive them, and how to tell their story in a way that creates opportunity, happiness, and prosperity. Come learn how the words you use — to describe yourself and your academic and work experiences — are either helping or hurting you.

Then gather up some powerful new tools for understanding, crafting, and articulating a personal story that will turn heads, open doors, close deals, and create personal fulfillment. It’s time to discover what makes you meaningfully different from other students, grad school applicants, job candidates, or community influencers. Let Kate Colbert, one-time starry-eyed English major turned successful entrepreneur and bestselling business author, inspire YOU to tell a story that changes everything for your life and career. Register for this session.
Tracks: Making Connections, Intercultural Development Plan, Telling Your Story, Securing Experiences, Exploring Entrepreneurship, Try Something New

Sharmain Harris1:30-2:30 p.m.

Learning Outside the Lines — Sharmain Harris ’21
Todd Wehr Center Jockey Room
Being a student is tough, but it doesn’t have to be. Too many students get to a point in college where they are overwhelmed and have no idea what to do. They think that “taking all the responsibility on their shoulders” is the way to handle things. When students don’t know what to do, they shut down and feel like checking out or giving up. This presentation shows students what to do during tough times. Regardless of their year in college this presentation shows them how to not only take advantage of the staff and student resources around but the attitude needed to become their own student advocate. Participants will learn critical skills needed to advocate for themselves, lead outside the lines and overcome any challenge thrown at them. The presentation is delivered in a dynamic and interactive experience that evokes emotions, leaving student eager to succeed when they walk away. Register for this session.
Tracks: Making Connections, Intercultural Development Plan, Telling Your Story, Securing Experiences, Exploring Entrepreneurship, Try Something New

Patrick Cummings3-4 p.m.Laura Huaracha

Making Something Out of Nothing — Patrick Cummings ’04 and Laura Huaracha, Associate Professor of Communication and Digital Media
Campbell Student Union Auditorium
Moderated by Laura Huaracha, associate professor of communication and digital media, hear from alumnus Patrick Cummings ’04 on how he landed his job as a graphic designer at Adidas after graduating from Carthage. He will also share how he led the entire rebrand and created the Carthage Firebirds logo. Register for this session. 
Tracks: Building Professional Documents, Telling Your Story, Securing Experiences, Exploring Entrepreneurship

Carolynn Friesch3-4 p.m.Holly Hess

It’s About the Journey — Carolynn Friesch, CEO of United Way of Kenosha County and Holly Hess, Purposeful Life and Leadership Coordinator, Carthage College
Todd Wehr Center 128
Have you heard this saying before? “Life is a journey, not a destination.” In this session, presenters will dive into the importance of the “journey” and identify small steps that can make a big difference as you travel towards your “destination.” Whether your focused on identifying a career path or thinking about life in general, this presentation is for you. Register for this event.
Tracks: Career Development, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Networking, Creativity

4-5:30 p.m.

Caroline Riley

#IAmRemarkable — Caroline Riley ’02 
Todd Wehr Center Jockey Room
Led by Carthage alum and Google employee, Caroline Riley, #IamRemarkable is a Google initiative empowering women and other underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond. During the 90-minute workshop, you will learn the importance of self-promotion in your personal and professional life and be equipped with tools to develop this skill. Participants will be invited to challenge the social perception around self-promotion. Boost your confidence and learn to express your achievements. 82 percent of participants declared to feel more confident since attending the workshop. Register for this session. 
Tracks: Making Connections, Intercultural Development Plan, Telling Your Story, Exploring Entrepreneurship, Try Something New

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Siovahn Williams

Meet the Majors: Urban Teacher Preparation Program — Siovahn Williams, Director of the Accelerated Certification in Teaching and Assistant Professor of Education
Todd Wehr Center 128

Building on the College’s existing urban education minor, the Urban Teacher Preparation Program is designed to expand the pool of educators who are equipped and committed to teach in urban elementary schools. Register for this session. 
Tracks: Making Connections, Intercultural Development Plan, Securing Experiences, Try Something New

Register for The Aspire Conference!