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Rookies of the Year 2017

7 students who made their mark their first year here

With the Class of 2021 getting ready to start their Carthage careers, let’s look back at seven members of the Class of 2020 who made an impact during their freshman year.

Jesus Enriquez

Jesus Enriquez '20

Major: Psychology with an Occupational Therapy emphasis
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Awards: Gates Millennium Scholarship

Jesus Enriquez was one of 1,000 students across the country to earn a Gates Millennium Scholarship. The scholarship was established in 1999 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide excellent students of diverse backgrounds with an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s and advanced degrees.

Once Jesus learned about the scholarship, he had to pump the brakes on his college decision.

“I was part of Medicina Academy Apprentice Program at the University of Illinois – Chicago for four years and was actually already enrolled,” Jesus said. “Once I found out that I got into Carthage I decided to unenroll because Carthage gave me the opportunity to get out of Chicago and go somewhere I never thought I’d have the chance to go.”

With the scholarship, Jesus could have gone to any school in the country. He chose Carthage because he wanted a liberal arts education, to stay close to home, and because he wanted to surround himself with a different culture.

“I come from the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago which is a majority Hispanic and Spanish-speaking neighborhood,” he said. “Coming to Carthage helped expose me to people of different backgrounds and I wanted to meet different types of people because when I’m working in the real world, it’ll be good to have that experience.”

What does Jesus want to do in the “real” world? He wants to help children as an occupational therapist.

“When I was in 6th grade I got involved with a program called ‘Pure Buddies’ which let me hang out with kids with disabilities. I got to see what treatments they received and how they lived their life,” he said. “That program made me want to get involved more.”

Since then he’s had multiple internships at hospitals in the Chicago area that focused on helping children and learning more about the medical field.

This summer he will work at the Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay, Michigan. Bay Cliff Health Camp is a summer camp that welcomes both children and adults with physical disabilities.

Involved in:

Advice for incoming freshmen:

“Explore beyond your boundaries.”

Celestine Ananda

Celestine Ananda '20

Major: Physics and Math
Hometown: New London, Wisconsin

Celestine Ananda was named a student ambassador to Citizens for Space Exploration. She is one of 25 students nationwide and the only student from Wisconsin to have the honor.

Citizens for Space Exploration is a grass-roots organization composed of people from across the country who come together to encourage legislative support for America’s space flight program. Celestine will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional representatives and stress the importance of NASA funding this summer.

Celestine has had an interest in space for as long she can remember. “I’ve always liked space and math, but didn’t see a way to combine them until I started taking physics,” she said.

This past school year, she participated in the Alan Alda Science Communication Workshop led by Prof. Dan Lyons. The workshop is designed to help ease the burden of communicating fairly complicated scientific concepts to average people.

“Scientists have a way of thinking that’s slightly different from people that aren’t,” she said. “If you let them know the exciting results first and then show them the nuts and bolts afterwards, you have a much better chance of reaching them than if you lead with the details and proof first.”

Celestine is also a member of the Carthage CaNOP project that is attempting to design, build, and launch a CubeSat, a tiny satellite that will attempt to gather the same data as the LandSat satellite 7,000 times its size. She serves as the Attitude Determination and Control System Lead where she is responsible in maintaining the satellite’s position despite it being in constant motion.

After Carthage she wants to keep her options open.

“I’m interested in quantum mechanics and astrophysics,” she said. “But my experience with CubeSat has also made me interested in possibly pursuing aerospace engineering, I think it’d be fun to merge my interests by designing nuclear powered spacecraft.”

Involved in:

Advice for incoming freshmen:

“Do the reading! In high school I could get away with not reading, but still come away with the knowledge I needed to know. In college I can’t do that. I need to read to understand what I don’t know and then come to class to find those answers.”

Katherine Mueller

Katherine Mueller '20

Major: Chinese, Asian Studies, and Communication
Hometown: Schaumburg, Illinois
Awards: Modern Languages Scholarship

“I went on the Guatemala Spanish Immersion J-Term trip and when I came back my mind immediately went to Spanish by default.”

Want to know how much of a language person Katherine Mueller is? She’s not majoring or even minoring in Spanish at Carthage. She wanted to go on the J-Term study tour just to grow her fluency in the third language she speaks.

Katherine is a triple major in Chinese, Asian Studies, and Communication. Her love of language began at an early age.

“I started studying Mandarin when I was five,” she said. “I was born in China and adopted by parents who only knew English. They wanted me to learn Chinese so that it would be a part of my life and I just had an ear for it.”

Katherine originally chose Carthage because, while it felt familiar (she only looked at three small, liberal arts schools), it stood out because it felt the most natural to her and because of the engagement she felt with her professors.

That engagement carried through to her Target Language Experts so much that she will be spending most of her summer in China with some of them immersing herself in Mandarin.

After Carthage she hopes to work in the non-profit sector.

“There’s an organization called Show Hope that works with adopted children with special needs,” she said. “I would love to help organizations that do things like that.”

Involved in:

Advice for incoming freshmen:

“Don’t take yourself too seriously. College is a journey and be ready for challenge, but don’t be too hard on yourself. There’s always people you can find to help. Everything will be okay.”

Mitchell Noble

Mitchell Noble '20

Major: Biology with a Pre-Med emphasis
Hometown: Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Awards: Tarble Family Scholarship

The first year of college can be stressful enough without the added pressure of helping to save lives, but that’s what Mitch Noble does. He serves as an Emergency Medical Technician for the Silver Lake Rescue Squad in Salem Lakes, Wisconsin. His work as an EMT actually helped him to decide to major in biology on the pre-med track so that one day he can work in emergency medicine.

“After college I’d really like to go into the military for medical school,” he said. “After medical school I’d like to work as a Emergency Medicine Physician with Flight for Life or UW Med Flight before settling down into the emergency room at a hospital.”

This passion for emergency medicine didn’t come from the classroom—it came from the beach.

While Mitch was staying close to his home in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, attending community college studying computer science, he decided to take a job as a Los Angeles City Lifeguard. An EMT course sparked his interest further and he went on to become an EMT in the Los Angeles area before deciding to move across the country to come to Carthage.

Why trade warmth and sunshine for Wisconsin winters?

“My parents moved around a lot when I was a kid and I actually used to live in the Midwest,” he said. “Coming to Carthage was a chance to come back to the Midwest with my fiancée.”

“You also get the chance to be a big fish in a small pond at Carthage,” he said. “I get to interact with all my professors and know them personally instead of sitting in a 300-student lecture hall at UCLA or USC.”

Involved in:

Advice for incoming freshmen:

“Get to know your professors! Don’t be afraid to develop one-on-one relationships with them. Also, if you want to go into any sort of medical field, get experience! There’s only so much you can know about the profession before you actually get clinical experience.”

Shannon Kafura

Shannon Kafura '20

Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Kenosha, Wisconsin

This spring a lot of 18-year-olds will graduate from high school. When Shannon Kafura is 18, she’ll be graduating from Carthage with a degree in neuroscience.

Shannon was the youngest person to ever graduate from the Kenosha Unified School District and she did so in style, earning a 30 on her ACT and coming into Carthage with 24 college credits already accumulated.

Part of the reason why Shannon is rapidly going through school is because she was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type IV, a rare form of brittle bone disease that carries a life expectancy of about 40 years.

After Carthage she hopes to race through medical school on her way to becoming a pathologist or a neonatal surgeon, inspired to help research her condition and help others with it.

When Shannon isn’t breezing through homework or in physical therapy, she volunteers at Kenosha County Restorative Justice, an organization that works with youth offenders and victims and brings them together in an attempt to make things right. She was introduced to the group by her stepmother and started out making coffee, but has slowly taken on more responsibilities.

Involved in:

Advice for incoming freshmen:

“Time management and the willingness to ask for help are really important. You CAN achieve a high GPA as long as you manage your time responsibly and ask for help if you need it. There is a time for fun, but there is also a time for work. So long as you dedicate enough time for schoolwork and get help if you are struggling, you will do great!”

Sage O’Brien

Sage O'Brien '20

Major: Environmental Science
Hometown: Belleville, Illinois
Awards: Presidential Scholarship

Sage O’Brien’s interest in science blossomed when she volunteered at the St. Louis Zoo at age 16 helping to catch and mark bees to help keep track of the bee population to help find out why bees are dying off at an alarming rate.

“I was always interested in animals, so that’s what made me want to volunteer at the zoo,” she said. “But seeing the passion of the scientists working there is what inspired me to want to become a scientist as well.”

She was also struck the passion of another scientist—Prof. Tracy Gartner. Sage is working with Prof. Gartner in the greenhouse studying how plants and fungi work together under the soil.

“There’s a lot of synthetic fertilizer research going on now, but we want to show that a natural process can perform just as well.”

Thinking like a scientist also helped Sage choose where she went to school.

“I really liked the biodiversity of campus,” she said. “There’s a lake, a beach, an arboretum, and a river all here. Those things, along with being able to do hands-on research and the new science center, helped make my decision easier.”

Once she’s done with Carthage and with graduate school, she hopes to work in a non-profit performing a mix of lab and field research. Her dream job would be at the World Wildlife Fund or at Ocean Conservancy.

Sage isn’t all experiments and test tubes though. This year she, along with her roommate, started the Carthage Curling Club which took home “New Student Organization of the Year” at this year’s SEAL awards.

“We wanted to start an athletic club that anyone could join,” she said. “I’d never curled before in my life because it doesn’t get cold enough where I’m from, but my roommate and I wanted to try so we started it. The club just keeps on growing.”

Involved in:

Advice for incoming freshmen:

“Build a support system! Put yourself out there and make friends in your hall, in your major, and get to know your professors. These are the people you’ll make memories with, but also the people that will be there to pick you up when you’re stressed or homesick. They’ll also be the people that you’ll be able to rely in the future for jobs and internships.”

Ashley Kohler

Ashley Kohler '20

Majors: Japanese and Asian Studies
Hometown: Oak Grove, Minnesota

Carthage students are very involved with the 120 student organizations on campus, so it’s not unusual to see students list everything they’re involved in in their email signature. Ashley Kohler doesn’t do that—simply because that would make every one of her emails incredibly long.

Ashley is incredibly involved on campus. Don’t believe us? Just check out the list of things she’s involved with below.

“I had to have walked around the student org fair about four times,” she said. “There were some things I knew I wanted to join, but a lot of the others just fell into place.”

“Time management and setting priorities are a key for me. Being in so many things, there’s overlap and I have to decide what’s more important while at the same time giving my time t each group. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.”

When she’s not spending her time with one of her various student organizations, she’s excelling in the classroom. She was named to the Alpha Lambda Delta freshmen honor society and is double majoring in Japanese and Asian Studies.

“I wanted to study Japanese because my grandmother, who was Japanese, died when I was eight and I never got to hear her full stories,” she said. “My junior year I’ll be studying abroad for a full year in Japan and I hope to become a translator.”

Involved in:

Advice for incoming freshmen:

“Don’t ever be afraid to go join a club and don’t be afraid to try something new! This is the only time in your life that you’ll be able to do stuff like this.”


  • 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. 11 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 …