Marie Sarantakis ’11
Falling in love with justice, leadership, and the community
“I began attending Carthage College when I was just 16 years old. I was still in high school at the time, but I loved taking political science and philosophy courses in the evening. I had the opportunity to get to know and learn from incredible mentors, such as Professors Paul Ulrich, Daniel Magurshak, Wayne Thompson, and Rick Matthews. The professors at Carthage not only encouraged me but also provided me with a plethora of opportunities at an early age … for which I will be forever grateful.
“The Carthage experience changed me from the very beginning. I was a member of several student clubs and organizations at Carthage, but my most memorable experiences involved founding and presiding over three organizations that previously did not exist on campus. The administration and staff enabled me with the resources and opportunities to form the following chapters of student organizations: the American Criminal Justice Association — Lambda Alpha Epsilon, Collegiate DECA (then known as Delta Epsilon Chi) for Business and Marketing Students, and the Marcone Society for young entrepreneurs. Developing and managing these organizations provided me with the foundation — including the creativity and discipline — it would take to later manage my law offices. Rather than confining me to the options already available, Carthage allowed me and other students with similar interests to grow and flourish.
“During my sophomore year at Carthage, I began working for Professor Wayne Thompson. He was working on a research study at the time entitled ‘Social Ecology of Congregations.’ In support of his work, I would visit various homes of worship across all major religious denominations, attending services and then interviewing leaders and laypersons. I would inquire about various issues, such as the organization’s political and moral stance on hot-button issues, as well as the demographics of their membership. I met so many wonderful people from various faiths in this process. I even ended up discovering the church that I now attend on a weekly basis, nearly a decade later. My work for Prof. Thompson was beyond meaningful. I enjoyed being out in the field, analyzing the data gathered, and also working as one of his student instructors.
“For me, Carthage was a place not just of skill-building and learning, but of discovering new interests and passions. I spent my time at Carthage exploring new and foreign subject areas. I developed a love for philosophy and the humanities. I learned about other cultures in a Bollywood cinema course, and how and why people across the globe view the same experience through differing paradigms in my various sociology courses. No matter which courses I was taking at the time, I always had a passion for writing. During my last semester, I even published an Amazon bestselling book on the raw food movement.
“After graduation, I attended the John Marshall Law School, obtained my Juris Doctorate degree, and began a successful family law practice, primarily handling high-net-worth divorces for clients in Chicago and the western suburbs of Illinois. I lost touch with the Carthage community for a few years but recently reconnected. Bridget Haggarty, executive director of institutional advancement, told me about the 150 Years of Carthage Women programs and festivities underway and I was immediately inspired and excited to become re-engaged — to learn more about the programs, to reconnect with the school, and to meet students and other alumni. What I love about Carthage is that whether you’ve been gone for a decade or a year, it always feels like home when you walk back onto campus.
“As for ‘Carthage women,’ we have never taken no for an answer. I think that’s why I fit in so well. Carthage women were always ahead of their time. They are strong-willed renaissance women and leaders in the community at large. Based on the remarkable young women I met on campus this past year, I believe this legacy will continue for years to come.”