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Rookies of the Year

6 students who made their mark their first year here

As we anticipate welcoming the Class of 2024, let’s celebrate the impact of our newest Carthaginians. Meet six freshmen who are definitely ready for year two.

Joel Branson '23Joel Branson ’23

Major: International Political Economy
Minors: Spanish and Chinese
Hometown: Saint Joseph, Ill.

Why did you choose to come to Carthage?
“I chose Carthage because I felt like it was far enough from my friends and family in central Illinois that I could learn to be an independent person and grow on my own, but was close enough that I could still visit home when I had time. I was also very drawn by the international political economy major, which is something like a dream major to me.”

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your first year, and why?
“Recently, I was awarded the Excellence in Chinese Learning Award from the Wisconsin Association for Chinese Language Teachers. Coming into college, I decided to pick up a third language and minor in Chinese. Learning Chinese presented a new challenge in my life that was harder than I ever could have anticipated. A language completely different than Spanish and English, Chinese required hours upon hours of practice each and every week, and to be recognized for the hard work that was necessary to learn effectively was very fulfilling. I really appreciated receiving that award and have my classmates and Professor Darwin Tsen from the Chinese Department to thank.”

Which professor helped you to succeed during your first year?
Prof. Tsen in the Chinese Department was one of the first professors I had in my first week of college here at Carthage. Prof. Tsen has taught me for the whole course of my freshman year thus far and has constantly been one of the most accessible, understanding, kind, and personable teachers I’ve ever had in my education. He welcomes questions and treats his students with kindness and respect. He’s guided me through the challenge that is learning Chinese and has ensured that I always look forward to coming to his class.”

Did you travel for J-Term? What was the experience like? What do you hope to do for future J-Terms?
“I did not travel for my first J-Term. I took a Christian Spirituality class, which is something very outside of my comfort zone, not being a religious person at all. However, I thought it was very interesting to learn about the Christian faith and what it meant to be a practiced Christian. This January, I plan on going to Madrid as a part of Professor Matt Borden’s Spain: Intensive Language Study study tour. I plan to use this experience as a capstone of nearly 10 years of learning the Spanish language.

What’s been the biggest surprise about your first year of college?
“I think the biggest surprise about my first year of college is the amount of time you have to be an independent person. You have so much time on your hands, regardless of your extracurriculars, the amount of homework you have, or whatever else you have going on. In college, you have all the time in the world to make your own decisions and be or become your own person.”

What clubs and activities are you involved in?

Why was it important for you to get involved on campus right away?
“I think that getting involved on campus was important in making connections for the future, and even just making friends. At a small school like Carthage, it’s easy to put yourself out there in your classes and events. As a part of the men’s soccer team, you are immediately thrown into a social circle, full of new people with a similar interest as you. I think that helped a lot with becoming acclimated with college as well because I always had someone older and more experienced to come to if I ever needed help.”

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
“Don’t be afraid to be yourself when you get into college. People want to see you for yourself, so don’t wear a facade when you meet new people. Be genuine and be kind, and people will treat you the same. It is much easier to acclimate yourself to college when you do it alongside other people!”


Lizeth Brito '23Lizeth Brito ’23

Majors: Political Science and Spanish
Minor:
 Business Administration
Hometown: Racine, Wis.

Why did you choose to come to Carthage?
“The first time I visited campus was during Private College Week. After my tour, I remember sitting on the red chairs taking in the beautiful view, and just knowing Carthage was for me. The small class sizes and quality of education were just what I was looking for. I was also the recipient of the Modern Language Scholarship; knowing I had a way to pay for my education helped finalize my decision.”

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your first year, and why?
“I am most proud of the leadership positions I was able to obtain this year. I was voted vice president of the Student Government and I will also be a resident assistant in the Oaks in the fall. Knowing that even as a freshman, my voice made an impact was so important.”

Which staff member helped you to succeed during your first year?
“Student success advisors Jessica Chung and Anna Thompson were the ones who helped me the most this year. As a first-gen student, I had so many questions and they did such an amazing job of answering anything I was unsure about. I always looked forward to walking into the TWC just because I knew I would get to see both of them. They always went above and beyond to make Carthage feel like home.”

What’s been the biggest surprise about your first year of college?
“I definitely didn’t expect to move out of the dorms so early due to a pandemic, but other than that, I was surprised by the amount of life-long friends I’ve made so far.”

What clubs and activities are you involved in?

Why was it important for you to get involved on campus right away?
“I had originally decided to commute to Carthage and I was determined to be just as involved as if I did live in the dorms. Eventually, I moved on campus after the first month because I wanted the true college experience. That was definitely the best decision I could’ve made because it gave me the ability to really integrate myself and become a more active member of the Carthage community.”

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
“College is a time to branch out and try new things. Get involved! Go to the bingo nights and go to the athletics games. Also, something that always kept me up to date was making sure I checked my email and The Bridge. If you don’t want to be left out, definitely give it a try!”


Ana Carolina Amadeu '23Ana Carolina Amadeu ’23

Majors: Political Science and Spanish
Hometown: Itu, SP, Brazil

Why did you choose to come to Carthage?
“As an international student, it was very important for me to find a place where I felt like I was home. I spent most part of my year in the United States, far away from my family. At Carthage, I found my second home and family.”

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your first year, and why?
“The accomplishment I’m most proud of is being hired as a student ambassador. I love Carthage so much, and it feels so good when I can talk and share my great experiences as a freshman to people who are interested in coming to Carthage. I got to meet so many new people who will be attending Carthage in the fall and other students who are already attending Carthage that I probably would’ve never met if I wasn’t a student ambassador.”

Which professor helped you to succeed during your first year?
“All of my professors somehow helped me during my first year, but Professor Roberg was the one who helped me the most. During the first semester, I was thinking about changing my major (it was international political economy at that time) to political science. I was not sure about what I could do after college with a political science degree, but Prof. Roberg kindly explained to me everything that I needed to know. Now he is my advisor and continues to help me with everything that I need.”

What’s been the biggest surprise about your first year of college?
“My biggest surprise has been to feel so supported by all of my professors and advisors. They have shown me that it is okay to not know what you want to study just yet, but that they are there to help me make that decision. When I first came to Carthage, I was not sure about what major I wanted to study. After talking with so many different professors and my advisors, I feel a lot more confident now about what I am studying.”

What clubs and activities are you involved in?

Why was it important for you to get involved on campus right away?
“Getting involved on campus right away was very important for me because I wanted to meet as many people as possible right away. I am so glad that I did that because I met my best friends that, today, are my family on campus. I know that I can count on them for everything.”

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
“College is an amazing experience, enjoy every single moment of it! Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. College is not only about learning about your majors but is also about learning about life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we are all still learning! Lastly, be yourself and work on your personal growth. I can’t wait to see all of you on campus in the fall!”


Kyle Williamson '23Kyle Williamson ’23

Major: Biology
Minor: Pre-physical therapy
Hometown: Minooka, Ill.

Why did you choose to come to Carthage?
“I came to Carthage because of the sense of community that floods the campus. I’m still amazed that I get to go to school every day on the shores of Lake Michigan. There is no other place I would want to be. I get to earn my degree and practice in some of the best facilities in the area.”

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your first year, and why?
“My accomplishment that I’m most proud of academically was in my microbiology class with Professor Andrea Henle. My lab partner, Anders Johnson, and I replicated our Phage (a virus ‘eating’ bacteria) and performed the best DNA extraction within our class. I was also very proud of playing Varsity as a tight-end and also a right tackle with my guys!”

Which professor helped you to succeed during your first year?
“A professor who helped me succeed during my first year was my chemistry professor, Professor Olivia Altstadt. She helped me in every way possible throughout the first semester with stress, college advice, and, of course, chemistry. The transition wasn’t the easiest with classes and football, but she gave me some of the best advice and always seemed to reassure me that everything was going to be okay.”

What’s been the biggest surprise about your first year of college?
“My biggest surprise about going to college was not realizing how big of an impact my new friends made within my first year. I know that these are going to be the people that have my back.”

What clubs and activities are you involved in?

Why was it important for you to get involved on campus right away?
“I believe getting involved on campus right away accommodates the stress that comes with college. Personally, getting involved got me into a routine right away, which I enjoyed. Not to mention, that’s how I met a lot of the people I call my friends today.

“This year I was involved with the football program. I met some of the best people that I’ll know for the rest of my life. It was hard to balance practice, meetings, and lifts, but it got me on the right routine to keep disciplined throughout the year.”

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
“My advice to incoming freshman is don’t be afraid to fail and take advantage of new opportunities that come. Going to a college, big or small, is a huge adjustment. Don’t get too discouraged and learn to trust yourself.”


Giana Apostoli '23

Giana Apostoli ’23

Major: Biology
Hometown: Kenosha, Wis.

Why did you choose to come to Carthage?
“I chose Carthage because of the small class sizes that would allow me to build close relationships with my peers, and especially with my professors. Because of these small class sizes, I have been able to get to know so many people who are interested in the same career path as me, and the professors have helped me immensely with making decisions for my future. Everyone has been very supportive!”

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your first year, and why?
“An accomplishment that I am most proud of that has nothing to do with being on the tennis court or being in the classroom would have to be how much I have developed as a person. Because I am surrounded by a diverse group of people who all come from different backgrounds, I have been able to learn about many different perspectives other than my own. I am very grateful for these experiences as it has taught me many things I would not have learned if I had not come to Carthage.”

Which professor helped you to succeed during your first year?
“The professor who has really helped me succeed during my first year at college would have to be Professor Christine Blaine, my chemistry professor. She has made me believe in myself, and that I can do whatever I put my mind to. She is the most supportive person I have met so far, and she really sets an example for having a passion for what your job is. Prof. Blaine has made me find my passion to become a PA.” 

What’s been the biggest surprise about your first year of college?
“The biggest surprise was how friendly everyone is. The students on campus, the professors, and the faculty are all very supportive and welcoming. I have had only positive experiences with everyone I have met so far. Everyone is genuinely interested in how you are doing, and what you want to do in the future as a job.”

What clubs and activities are you involved in?

Why was it important for you to get involved on campus right away?
“Even though Carthage has a small student body, the number of clubs, organizations, and extracurricular activities offered here are what really expanded my experience at Carthage. If I had not participated in the groups I am in, I never would have met some of my closest friends, and I wouldn’t have the opportunities to further develop my knowledge in the things I am interested in.”

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
“College is a big step in learning more about yourself, such as what you’re passionate about, what opinions you have, and whether or not you can really wake up for that 8 a.m. class.”


Marielle Shiring '23

Marielle Shiring ’23

Majors: Arts Administration (self-designed major) and Theatre
Minor: English
Hometown: Madison, Wis.

Why did you choose to come to Carthage? 
“I chose Carthage because I saw that Carthage not only provided students with an excellent education but also with the skills to succeed in life! The small class sizes, close student-professor relationships, and warm community vibe are just some of my favorite things about Carthage. I was also fortunate enough to receive the President Anderson Scholarship, which covers 75 percent of my tuition per year and greatly helps me and my family financially.”

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your first year, and why?
“I am most proud of designing my own major in arts administration. I was originally an undecided major and was considering several options such as Spanish, elementary education, accounting, management, and more. However, after several meetings with my Aspire Career Specialist Sarah Gorke and other professors, I decided to design my own major in arts administration and I am so excited to see where this major takes me!”

Which professor helped you to succeed during your first year?
“It is so hard to narrow it down because all of my professors are so wonderful! I would have to say Professor David García and Professor Hershel Kruger. Prof. Garcia was my Western Heritage professor. Not only has he helped me improve my reading and writing skills, but he has also provided great college advice. I remember sitting in his office and telling him about how I was very stressed, and he just sat and actively listened to me. It was so comforting to know that my professors not only cared about my education but also my well-being.

“Prof. Kruger is my faculty advisor and he personally reached out to me to talk about my personal interests, and was the person who proposed my self-designed major in arts administration. He has been an incredible help in proposing this major and providing me with great advice and information about working in the theatre world. Both of these professors helped me grow, and I am so thankful for them!”

Did you travel for J-Term? What was the experience like? What do you hope to do for future J-Terms?
“I traveled to Costa Rica for a modern language study with Professor Pascal Rollet. I was very anxious, but I decided to take this leap of going out of my comfort zone and left the country for the first time to experience a whole new culture. I decided to go on this trip to improve my Spanish-speaking skills, however, I came out with a little something extra. We immersed ourselves in the Costa Rican culture, which is very different compared to the United States. Cold showers, NO WiFi, crazy heat and humidity, slippery and slimy mud, and too many cockroaches, ants, and other bugs to count are just some of the challenges Costa Rica had waiting for me. I made a conscious decision to not complain or moan and groan about these things; instead, I did what my mom has taught me: Give it up to God and simply pray, ‘Jesus, help me be strong.’ I gave up the privileges and amenities that I am so used to in order to truly live in this new culture and spread love and joy to people around me. By immersing myself into the Costa Rican culture, I have learned to look at life through a different lens — one made of love, compassion, and grace.

“Next J-Term I am planning on working with Prof. Kruger on managing a theatre festival. I also hope to travel outside of the country again to experience different and diverse cultures.”

What’s been the biggest surprise about your first year of college?
“I would say the biggest surprise is how involved I got as a freshman. I played clarinet for the Pep Band and Concert Band, sang in the Treble Choir, and was hired as a Student Ambassador and as an Orientation Leader for next year. All of these activities have helped my personal growth and I am so excited to continue my involvement in them and give back to the Carthage community.”

What clubs and activities are you involved in?

Why was it important for you to get involved on campus right away?
“I wanted to learn more about myself and grow as a person, and I knew that the best way to do this was to get involved on campus. My Catholic faith has improved by attending mass every Sunday and being hired at the Center for Faith and Spirituality as a Common Ground Coordinator. I also meet so many amazing people and have developed great friendships. Some of my favorite memories at Carthage are from orientation week and going to all of the fun activities such as Chapel Night Live and Karaoke Night.”

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
“Put yourself out there! Join a club or organization you are interested in, personally introduce yourself to your professors, take advantage of the Aspire Center! Carthage provides so many incredible opportunities, but it is up to you to use and learn from them. You are only going to be as successful as you want to be, and Carthage is here to help you reach those goals!”

  • 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 …

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