Stories of Impact
1875: Maggie, Ida, and Kate — The First Graduates
Three women and one man comprised the first class to graduate from Carthage College when it was newly established in Carthage, Illinois. After an initial beginning in Hillsboro followed by a second home in Springfield, and after barely surviving the Civil War plus internal theological strife, the institution was still coping with ongoing financial struggles. The Lutherans who wanted this college in the west were looking for a location where the school could finally flourish. On January 10, 1870, “eleven citizens of Carthage formed an association to establish an institution to be known as Carthage College.”
Nancy Lyon ’78
“My liberal arts education prepared me for law school and for succeeding in a male-dominated career in law and financial services,” says Nancy Lyon ’78, a retired senior wealth strategist.
At Carthage, Ms. Lyon learned how to take risks, accept both triumph and defeat, and pave her way through career and life. She believes strongly in the ability of athletics to teach valuable life skills and create lasting relationships, and she is excited to be part of the planning committee for the Women’s Athletics Reunion Oct. 2-3, 2020.
Ruth (Zimmerman) Mhanga ’11
During difficult times, it’s encouraging to remember that our mission as a Lutheran college is greater than just knowledge sharing. It’s about finding one’s vocation — work that is both meaningful and helpful to oneself and others. Vocation-centered education equips students to understand how the world, human beings, and communities function, as well as what they need to be personally fulfilled and healthy.
Ruth (Zimmerman) Mhanga ’11 is an exemplar of the Carthage vocation-centered education. Her experience at Carthage pushed her intellectual curiosity, humility and openness to others, and moral and religious sensitivity. She is now studying to become a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
‘The Beginning of Carthage Women’ – an essay by Ann W. Bundgaard
In a multi-generational collaboration, 150 Years of Carthage Women volunteer Ann Wagner Bundgaard, with help from Carthage senior Jennifer Stumme ’20, gives us an amazing deep dive into the early years of the College. This essay sets out to discover the role that women played, if any, in the institution from its founding in 1847 to 1870, when it officially became co-ed. Their research led them to some amazing findings.
This essay is a tribute to the small group of German pastors who risked life in the “far west,” and founded the College that believed in the dignity of all humans.
Special thanks to Ann and Jennifer. Your work is a celebration of the liberal arts education and lifelong learning.
Zawadi Megeni-Mboma ’11
Zawadi Megeni-Mboma ’11 is a research scientist at Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, and a doctoral candidate at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her doctoral research is focused on understanding the factors associated with the effectiveness and durability of long-lasting insecticidal treated nets used for malaria control.
Her experience with geospatial science and spatial modeling started in former Carthage professor Julio Rivera’s classroom. She now uses this technology to explore and enhance the delivery of essential medical supplies to underserved populations.
Mrs. Megeni-Mboma was scheduled to be a featured panelist in the third annual Gunderson Lecture in April 2020. This event has been postponed but we hope to welcome her back to campus again soon.
Marie Sarantakis ’11
Marie Sarantakis ’11 is the principal attorney of Sarantakis Law Group, Ltd. After completing her bachelor’s at Carthage, she obtained her Juris Doctor degree from The John Marshall Law School, where she received academic distinction. She credits Carthage for helping her become the strong-willed leader that she is today.
“For me, Carthage was a place not just of skill-building and learning, but of discovering new interests and passions,” said Ms. Sarantakis.
‘Carthage wives vital to the campus relocation ’ – an essay by Ann W. Bundgaard
Most of you can probably remember moving from one house or apartment to another. But can you imagine moving an entire college? Carthage College actually moved the whole operation from Carthage, Illinois, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the early 1960s. Many of us know that fact already. But have we ever wondered what, exactly, such an operation entailed, who was involved and how all the pieces came together? The fact that Carthage College relocated, after being rooted for 90 years in a small Illinois town, and today flourishes over 300 miles north in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is an adventure worth recalling. This story is a glimpse into that epic adventure and three of the women who were involved in the nitty-gritty of the operation.
Beth Ann Barkhau ’83
Beth Ann Barkhau ’83 and her family have quite a history with Carthage. Her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and sister all call Carthage their alma matter: Bob Barkhau ’83, Evan Barkhau ’13, Kristen Thomas ’12, and Amy Findlay ’95. Mrs. Barkhau generously credits Carthage for helping her discover a deeper sense of love, faith, and community.
In October 2019, Mrs. Barkhau honored her mother by creating an endowed scholarship in her name. Her gift will help first-generation female students pursue their dreams into perpetuity, establishing a legacy for her mother on campus.
Carthage exists to educate young men and women, and alumni support in this endeavor, like that from Mrs. and Mr. Barkhau, is extremely meaningful to us.
Christina Bruff ’04
With the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States, Christina (Wright) Bruff leads a team that supports economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean — paralleling her volunteer efforts in the Peace Corps. Carthage taught her to approach unfamiliar topics fearlessly, an essential mindset in her varied public policy roles.
Gussie Yonashiro-Daniels ’84
Raised on Japan’s Okinawa Island, Gussie Yonashiro-Daniels came to the United States at 18. Her life’s mission to empower others took shape at Carthage. A fruitful career in nonprofit leadership across the Midwest led Ms. Yonashiro-Daniels to her position as president and CEO of YWCA Lake County in northeastern Illinois.
Emily McFarland ’07
Last April, voters elected Emily (Cahoon) McFarland ’07 mayor of Watertown, Wisconsin, a city of about 24,000 people where she was born and raised. Looking back, she considers Carthage a “catalyst” for a successful career that also has included jobs at the federal, state, and county levels of government.
Vivian Onano ’14
A scholarship program allowed Vivian Onano ’14 to attend Carthage, and she recently created the Leading Light Foundation to ensure that others in her native Kenya have similar access to education. She won’t forget the flexible professors who supported her global efforts “that most of the time clashed with my studies.”
Julie Elginer ’95
Now teaching at UCLA, Julie Elginer has a long and successful track record of “bringing people together to solve vexing issues in the public health space.” A leader with diverse experience in industry, nonprofits, and public service, Ms. Elginer can appreciate the strides she made at Carthage while caring for a terminally ill family member and holding three campus jobs.
Kate Colbert ’96
Kate Colbert ’96 earned her associate’s degree before transferring to Carthage as a junior, where she was an English major, a member of the Wind Orchestra, a Writing Center tutor, and an active academic leader, serving the Honors Council and other organizations. After graduating, Mrs. Colbert went on to earn a master’s degree in comparative literature and an MBA. She frequently engages in career conversations and networking events with current Carthage students.
Mrs. Colbert has gone on to be a successful business leader and accomplished author. She hopes Carthage women continue to break down barriers and find success in a wide variety of careers, and she frequently volunteers her time and expertise to make that happen.
In 2018, Mrs. Colbert joined the President’s Leadership Council and is currently a volunteer on the 150 Years of Carthage Women celebration committee.
Christine Hobbs ’71
Christine Hobbs, first in her family to attend a four-year college, graduated from Carthage in 1971. During her years at Carthage, Mrs. Hobbs overcame many unforeseen challenges before graduating and pursuing a career as a K-6 art teacher in the Kenosha Unified School District.
While she was in college, her mother Jean decided to join her in her pursuit of higher education and began taking evening classes at Carthage. Years later, Mrs. Hobbs’ son would attend Carthage and graduate with a major in computer science.
In 2016, Mrs. Hobbs joined the Carthage Board of Trustees, and currently serves on the 150 Years of Carthage Women celebration committee.
“Recognizing remarkable women faculty on the Illinois campus” — an essay by Ann W. Bundgaard
In an era when men controlled faculty, administration, boards of trustees, and Lutheran synods, three women faculty members, collectively, gave 115 years of service to Carthage College. Although their years of teaching did not completely overlap, they together constituted a strong female core among the male-dominated faculty from 1927 to 1952. Moreover, these women taught in disciplines often considered male strongholds — foreign languages, biology, and English.
Although each of the three women profiled had unique, individual talents, they all possessed some traits in common. They were born between 1879 and 1900. Thus, they grew up in the era when women were lobbying for the right to vote. All three women remained single throughout their lives. They each brought to Carthage several years of public school teaching experience in their home states. Finally, all three women demonstrated determination to succeed in their careers, as well as loyalty to the College and dedication to their students. Here are brief portraits of these remarkable Carthage women.
Shirley Diskerud ’59
Shirley Diskerud is a two-time graduate of Carthage College. She first completed her undergraduate degree on the Illinois campus in 1959, and then her Masters in Education in 1979. For more than 30 years, Mrs. Diskerud taught at Washington Junior High School in Kenosha.
During her freshman year at Carthage, Mrs. Diskerud met her husband, Clayton Diskerud, who would go on to spend 36 years as a member of the Carthage faculty. Throughout those years as a faculty member, his students and colleagues would become like family to the Diskeruds. Mr. and Mrs. Diskerud recently celebrated their 60th year of marriage.
Mrs. Diskerud is, indeed, Carthage family, and we hope our ongoing commitment to the values she holds dear have been worthy of her praise. We are grateful for her lifelong affection and support of this great institution.
Carol Nailor ’75
150 Years of Carthage Women volunteer, Carol Nailor ’75, is excited about the opportunity that this celebration provides to “pay-it-forward” and strengthen Carthage for future generations of women. In her own words, she shares more about how her time at Carthage helped shape the person she is today.
Ms. Nailor lettered three times in volleyball (1972-74), four times in basketball (1971-75), and four times in softball (1972-75). Her 1973, 1974, and 1975 softball teams went a combined 27-0 over three seasons. In 1985, Ms. Nailor was inducted into the Carthage Hall of Fame.
Upon graduation from Carthage, Ms. Nailor taught physical education for 36 years at Randall School in Burlington, Wis. She also served as the athletic director and coached basketball, softball, track and field, and volleyball at various times during her career.
Ms. Nailor retired from the public school system 2011, and from 2012-2016 she taught exercise and sport science at Carthage. She holds a master’s degree in sports management from the United States Sport Academy.
In the formative years, Lady Reds athletics was essentially a one-woman show. Dianne Mizerka coached at Carthage from 1968 to 1980, juggling nine different sports in the early days of the women’s athletic program. She went on to become Carthage’s first director of women’s athletics before retiring in 1985.
Ms. Mizerka passed away on January 22, 2020. Memorial gifts made to the Dianne Mizerka Softball Endowment will strengthen her lasting impact at Carthage. To make a gift in Ms. Mizerka’s honor, visit www.carthage.edu/give.
Veronica Hunter Moore ’05
“Some of my favorite Carthage memories include being a member of the Women’s Track and Field Team, late-night capture-the-flag tournaments, touring Europe with the Gospel Messengers, and being crowned Carthage Homecoming Queen,” Ms. Moore says.
“Carthage provided me with an opportunity to expand my world view. I was an inner city girl who only knew about life around her. Coming to Carthage exposed me to different cultures and opportunities. It forced me to think critically about my own individual identity and how I viewed the world.”
Prof. Irene Kraemer
“We don’t do ‘no’ here.” That was Irène Kraemer’s directive to her staff as dean of the School of Professional Studies.
The woman who once told a Kenosha News columnist that “life is too short to give up anything” empathized with adult students who balanced school, family, and career.
Prof. Alice Kibbe
Preeminent in botany and endearingly eccentric, Professor Alice Kibbe headed the Biology Department from 1920 to 1956 on the Carthage, Illinois, campus and then continued as curator of the College’s museum until the transition to Kenosha was completed in 1964.
Prof. Charlotte Chell
When she launched the precursor to today’s Carthage computer science program in 1984, Professor Charlotte Chell’s computer skills were largely self-taught. That was enough to build on.