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The Liberal Arts at Carthage

Hunter Sandidge ’15

Liberal Arts = Communication Skills and a Valuable Toolkit

Hunter Sandidge '15

Hunter Sandidge ’15

While at Carthage: Finance major, Western Heritage fan.

Now: Forecasting and modeling for Rockford, Illinois-based UTC Aerospace Systems.

Takeaway: “You can be good at your job, but if you can’t communicate with other people, you’re not going to go anywhere.” 

For a Carthage alum whose client list as a financial analyst for a Fortune 50 company includes NASA and the Department of Defense, Hunter Sandidge ’15 seems just as eager to gush about the College’s Western Heritage program.

Sure, he heard other business-minded students grumble about having to read key texts by Plato, Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, and others. But Hunter, who does forecasting and modeling for Rockford, Illinois-based UTC Aerospace Systems, looks back on the two-semester freshman sequence as an inseparable part of his finance degree.

“Western Heritage was probably the most valuable set of courses I took outside my major,” he said.

It taught Hunter more than just how the world works. Along with religion, science, and other requirements laid out in the Carthage Plan, the deep-probing Heritage discussions helped him to understand why things operate the way they do: what motivates people, the roots of today’s world political systems, etc.

Plus, those classes prodded him to meet classmates from other majors — and to see the world from their perspective. Working with a diverse clientele in the corporate world, Hunter pulls from that toolkit daily.

“If you don’t have that exposure coming into the work setting, you’re going to have communication problems,” he said.

Graduates emerging from larger business schools often lack that experience, Hunter warns.

“You can be good at your job, but, if you can’t communicate with other people,” he said, “you’re not going to go anywhere.”

The realization of how deeply Carthage’s liberal arts foundation helped him came gradually and subtly — and not just at the office.

“It’s as much about personal development as it is about professional development,” he said, adding that “the true test of a liberal arts education is the ability to hold a meaningful conversation with anyone you sit next to on an airplane.”

That worked on a recent flight. Hunter felt knowledgeable enough to strike up a fascinating chat with a seatmate who happened to be a practicing Sikh.

The College also stresses interdisciplinary study, and a J-Term study tour to Guatemala — a Carthage Symposium meshing the unique combo of professors Timothy Eckert (chemistry) and Edward Montanaro (economics/modern languages) — shaped Hunter’s approach to life. He adopted the Guatemalan saying, “Eat dessert first, because you never know when you’re going to die.”

Given the classified nature of some UTC clients, Hunter can’t reveal much about specific projects — except that his work sometimes touches on the developing mission to Mars. As for his own life mission? That got off to a near-perfect launch.

“I’m very happy with my college education,” he said, “and I’m not sure a lot of people can say that.”


  • 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 …