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The Bridge Fund

Before even coming to Carthage, Carolyn Ludecke ’17 knew what passions she wanted to pursue. She just didn’t know how to make attending Carthage a reality. “My senior year of high school, I was incredibly upset that I couldn’t go to Carthage, the college of my dreams, due to finances.”

Carolyn LudeckeRight from the beginning, her monthly payment was a constant concern. “The July before my freshman year, my birthday present was that month’s tuition payment. I was able to make it month-by-month — I was paying for school on my own — but I had the back-up of my parents if I needed a little extra money occasionally. My mom lost her job in May, so that safety net no longer existed as I made my way into my sophomore year. Luckily I received the Bridge Grant again and I was once again able to re-enroll in Carthage.”

The Bridge Grant made enrolling and continuing at Carthage go from impossible to possible for Carolyn, who continues to work to pay tuition. Every dollar of financial aid is time that she can focus on her studies instead of working. “The Bridge Grant made it affordable and I can’t thank anyone enough for that.”

Carolyn has become very active in the campus activities, taking full advantage of her time. “Freshman year I tried a lot of clubs, but the only one I went to repeatedly was Swing Dancing Club. This year, I have Swing Society and Wave Radio. I also go to events that fit into my schedule, such as the movies they show, Casino Night, dances. As a history major, I attend many lectures.”

After graduation Carolyn wants to put both her communication and history majors to use, advertising for a museum like the Smithsonian.

• • •

“The Bridge Fund is critical in helping retain and allow students to pursue their dream of finishing at Carthage,” says Director of Financial Aid Vatistas Vatistas. This year, 105 Bridge Grants were given to students in need.

• • •

Leah EbenerWhen Leah Ebener ’16 was a freshman, she dreamed about studying abroad, but she did not think it would be possible.

“The Bridge Fund helped me turn the dream of studying abroad into a reality,” Leah said. “The study abroad experience helped develop and enrich my core values as a person, while I lived and learned other cultures. This appreciation for others deeply impacted me. I now have a double major and a minor, and I plan on going into foreign language education.”

Leah is majoring in elementary education and Spanish, with a minor in music.

“The Carthage culture is warm, welcoming, diverse, and fun, always with lots going on, similar to that of a family,” she said. “Between the countless hours of getting additional help from professors, to meeting with multiple advisors to figure out my academic plan for classes, to spending lots of fun times with friends, I have come to love the Carthage campus, professors and students. I am so grateful that I have been provided the opportunity to experience such amazing years here at Carthage.”

“The Bridge Fund is yet another exemplification of the abundant generosity at Carthage. It has helped me accomplish everything that I anticipated doing in college and even more.”

• • •

When Jillian Kirschbaum’s home caught fire three weeks before her high school graduation, her parents had to use money set aside for her college tuition to pay for the repairs. Devastated, Jillian gave up hopes of attending Carthage — even her acceptance letter was burned in the fire.

Jillian Kirschbaum“My whole world was turned upside down,” she said. “It was three weeks before my senior year ended and my family was living in a hotel.”

Jillian made plans to stay home and possibly attend her local community college that fall. Everything changed, though, when Jillian and her dad met with the Financial Aid Office at Carthage. They learned of a Bridge Fund, a fund that provides emergency aid for students facing financial crises.

Because of the Bridge Fund, Jillian was able to begin her freshman year at Carthage.

“My dad and I were sitting in the office crying,” she said. “Even my dad was crying. The Bridge Fund has helped me get through college, and without it, I wouldn’t be here.”

Today, Jillian is majoring in business administration with a double minor in psychology and philosophy.

“Carthage is more than a college. The students, faculty and staff strive for success for not only themselves, but for the entire community,” she said. “Carthage is a support system and family. I am so grateful that through hard work, motivation from those surrounding me, and the generous support of alumni donors, that I am able to take part in the Carthage experience.”

• • •

When sophomore Kiley Greene started her career at Carthage, she soared. In her first semester, she declared a double major, became involved in clubs on campus, found a job on campus, and maintained a 4.0 GPA.

Kiley Greene“Even though I was finding my spot here at Carthage socially and academically, I could not help but constantly worry about the large amount of loans I had taken out to pay for my first year of college, and knew that they would only increase as years went by,” said Kiley. “My father’s job was not very stable at that point, and my parents needed to dip into the money set aside to pay for college to pay for bills. I knew that if my financial situation remained, I could not continue my career at Carthage.

“I had sent all the transcripts, filled out the withdrawal papers, and even started my search for new colleges when one of my accounting professors pulled me aside after class after hearing about my transfer and asked me why I was leaving. In his determination to keep me here, as I was a very good student and very involved on campus, he sought out every department and connection he had to try and find a way for me to stay.”

Kiley soon met with the Financial Aid Office and she was given a Bridge Grant. This semester, Kiley continues her 4.0 GPA and has gotten an internship.

“In going through this experience, I would say that the thing I love most about Carthage are the caring professors,” Kiley said. “Without professors who care, I might not be here today to share this story, continuing my education here at Carthage, and have such a bright future ahead of me.”

  • 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 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. 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 archaeology 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.

    • 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 $20,000 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 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 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 …