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Carthage in Chicago

Doorway to Careers

The inaugural class of the Carthage in Chicago program just completed the Fall 2014 semester living, working, and learning in one of the world’s most dynamic cities. With internships at such organizations as CPUrx and The Onion, students matured by the minute. “We’re growing into those people we’re going to become in the next five to 10 years,” said junior Michelle Balcerzak.

By Mike Moore
Fall 2014

Jacquelynn Glass '15, a graphic design and communication major, interns at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company during the Fall 2014 Carthage in Chicago programJacquelynn Glass '15, a graphic design and communication major, interns at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company during the Fall 2014 Carthage in Chicago programPiercing the white noise of taxi horns and CTA bus brakes, the shrill alarm from a clock or smartphone app rouses each of the dozen Carthage floormates. Three floors down, they toast their morning bagels. Pushing open the lobby door, they greet a city of 2.7 million people and limitless possibilities.

Just a typical weekday for the first participants in the Carthage in Chicago program.

Knowing the value of immersion and experiential learning, the College designed a program that offers both. Students live, work, and study in the Windy City for a full semester. Based on early feedback, these pioneers are hooked.

“By all indications, these students are having a truly transformative semester,” said Thomas Kline, associate vice president for strategic initiatives at Carthage. “Seeing this first class grow and mature confirms what the research told us: that this program has great potential.”

Workforce introduction

Internships are the central component. Although all 12 students are taking one or both of the courses offered there this fall, they spend the bulk of their time working.

For Justin Henderson ’16 and Juan Robles ’16, that means a short walk to the “El” train stop. From there, the Pink Line whisks them to their internships at CPUrx, which provides IT support, phone systems, and other technology services.

Justin, an accounting and finance major from Lapeer, Michigan, took the season off from the men’s soccer team to pursue this. Within a month, he earned enough trust at CPUrx to take responsibility for his entire department when needed. He approves time sheets, sends out and pays invoices, and plans to set up a monthly financial schedule to help predict expenses.

Sean Rogers '15 does his part to put out satirical news at The Onion. The graphic design major works for Erika Share '12 as an intern through the Carthage in Chicago Program in Fall 2014.Sean Rogers '15 does his part to put out satirical news at The Onion. The graphic design major works for Erika Share '12 as an intern through the Carthage in Chicago Program in Fall 2014.


Where Sean Rogers ’15 interns, the ties are loosened — or, actually, left at home. He works with video production teams at The Onion, the satirical news publisher whose websites draw more than 11 million unique visitors monthly.

While he’s excited to get a sneak peek at wacky headlines like “Pueblo Indians Can’t Keep Pace With Area Mom’s Appetite For Earthenware,” Sean is no mere observer. On a project for The Onion’s main website or its new spinoff, ClickHole, he might be asked to hold the boom microphone, edit footage, or add graphics.

His input helped the team polish a video of a man eating soup, set to the stirring theme music and opening credits from “Game of Thrones.” For the graphic design major from the nearby suburb of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, the future suddenly is coming into focus.

“I get to see one way my major could work in the ‘real world,’” Sean said. “It doesn’t have to be, ‘I just make logos 24/7.’”

Home to 31 Fortune 500 companies, the Chicago metropolitan area is flush with career prospects in just about any field. The initial Carthage in Chicago class encompasses majors from computer science to studio art.

“I’m already seeing great results from the students down there,” said Carolynn Friesch, director of internships for the College. “During my site visits, it’s clear that they’re excited about the work they’re doing and the chance to do it in a professional setting.”

Nick Cottrell '16, a public relations major, intenrs at Carol Fox & Associates, a full-service marketing agency, in Fall 2014 as part of the Carthage in Chicago program.Nick Cottrell '16, a public relations major, intenrs at Carol Fox & Associates, a full-service marketing agency, in Fall 2014 as part of the Carthage in Chicago program.

Staying in the Loop

At the end of the workday, the students trickle back to HI-Chicago. Carthage takes up half of the fifth floor at the award-winning hostel. On weekends, they might sample a new restaurant or catch an indie movie at the Music Box Theatre. “It’s nice to have these only-one-in-the-world locations we can go to whenever we want,” Sean said.

Michelle Balcerzak ’16 is the resident assistant. Just like RAs on campus, she makes the rounds to stay on the pulse of her crew. “Some of my residents are older than me, but they’re still my kids,” Michelle said. “Everyone is friends. We’ve become a very cohesive unit.”

The marketing major from Tinley Park, Illinois, has an internship at Pritzker Military Museum. Ditching her trademark sweatpants for business attire, Michelle sees a more mature professional in the mirror this fall.

“We’re growing into those people we’re going to become in the next five to 10 years,” she said.

Students were alerted up front to expect some bumpy patches during the program’s first run. Settling in 68 miles south of the Kenosha campus, they have adapted.

“It very much feels like we’re living in an apartment and working for a living,” said Sean Conley ’15, an international political economy major from Indianapolis.

Roommates quickly settled into their roles. Sharing a two-bedroom suite, Sean Conley cooks, Sean Rogers stocks the gaming consoles, Justin Henderson motivates the guys to work out, and Juan Robles — from Bogota, Colombia — breaks the ice with Spanish-speaking hostel guests.

A portable classroom

Teaching space is available in the hostel’s common area, but the Carthage classes only occasionally meet there. The city makes a better classroom.

Professors Maria Carrig and Christopher Lynch teach “Politics and Play,” which explores Chicago politics and theatre, and the ways they intersect. During the semester, students attend six plays with political themes. After each, they hold a discussion with the cast and crew.

Every student also researches the cultural and political changes over time in a different neighborhood. Both faculty members chip in tidbits they’ve gleaned as longtime residents. A lifelong Chicagoan, Prof. Carrig even shared anecdotes from her parents’ time at the chaotic 1968 Democratic Convention.

“This class depends on residence in Chicago for its success,” she said. “It enables me to share my love of Chicago and its theaters with Carthage students, and Chris gives us all a better understanding of the city’s political history.”

Although she’s a Wisconsinite, Professor Anne Cassidy leapt at the chance to hold classes at venues like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum. She teaches “Arts of the Indigenous Americas in Chicago.”

During one session at the Art Institute, each art piece sparked a discussion. As students examined anatomically distorted Mexican figurines or the Mayan “Vase of the Seven Gods,” Prof. Cassidy challenged them to explain what the artwork signified about people’s views.

To apply for Carthage in Chicago, students submit resumes and references. Faculty and administrators interview the eligible applicants and select a pool of up to 20. Each student has the option to be paired with an alumni mentor in the vicinity.

Barely a year after planning began in earnest, in September 2013, the program took flight. As chair of the advisory committee, Thomas Kline sees room to blend the Chicago initiative more fully into the College’s curriculum as it develops.

“It took the combined efforts of many individuals and offices across campus, as well as our alumni, to make Carthage in Chicago succeed,” he said. “I believe we have succeeded in building a program that will become a hallmark Carthage experience in the years to come.”

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Foot in the door? Alumni wedge it open

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2017), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • 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 wins, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 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. 95% 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. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016 and 2017, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience 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 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.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. 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,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. 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 the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, 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 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. 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.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • 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. 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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