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  • Isaac Rothenbaum '11

Isaac Rothenbaum ’11

Class Year



Graphic Design and Computer Science

Current home

New York, New York

Current position

CTO at Akwyar

Just four years after graduating from Carthage, Isaac Rothenbaum ’11 was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 in the tech category after a job search app he developed was featured in the Wall Street Journal.

“At that point we were averaging four to six downloads per day,” says Mr. Rothenbaum. “That day we were at 130 by noon and by that night our servers crashed due to the load.”

Despite his success, Mr. Rothenbaum didn’t think he’d ever go back to a startup company again. But now he’s back it, living in New York City and is the Chief Technology Officer for Akwyar, an emergency response app.

Convinced he was going to major in graphic design at Carthage, Mr. Rothenbaum credits a J-Term class and Dr. Mark Mahoney for helping him uncover his interest in computer science.

“I’ve talked with Dr. Mahoney about this a few times and he consistently downplays his role in mentoring me, but I will swear to the end of my days that he was the best professor I ever had. Many days it was just me and him in class. I can’t stress enough how useful it was for my learning to have that kind of direct attention.”

Mr. Rothenbaum was the recipient of several awards while at Carthage including a Carthage Beacon Award and as a swimmer at Carthage he was the recipient of the  NCAA DIII Sportsmanship Award in 2009.



“I’ve learned that the ‘real world’ is all about networking, establishing a rapport with people, being friendly, kind, well rounded, and likable. Carthage’s liberal arts education laid the perfect groundwork for success in this area.” 




What have you enjoyed most about your career?

Meeting other startup founders and hearing the problems they’re trying to solve.

How did Carthage prepare you?

Small companies require their employees to wear many different hats. Carthage’s liberal arts education - and my time participating in athletics and fraternity life - helped prepare me for the realities of startup life. There’s more to software engineering than writing code.

How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?

I credit Carthage’s J-Term with guiding me towards Computer Science. My freshman year -when I had every intention of being a graphic designer- I took a class called “Build your own robot army”. The class was like an intro to circuitry/coding where each student was taught to make a little autonomous car that would follow a course and avoid obstacles. Each car was supposed to have 2 proximity sensors, but one of mine broke and so I spent a lot of time designing a collision avoidance loop that could work with one sensor instead of two. I had so much fun doing it that I declared a major in Computer Science the next day. If not for Carthage’s J-Term, which encourages students to take risks and explore classes outside their intended major, I might never have discovered my love of coding.

Tips for current Carthage students:

Stay for J-Term. Play a sport (even if it’s club and even if you’re bad) Meet lots of people. Make some friends. Don’t stress it.

Favorite Carthage memories:

Some of my favorite memories are things the administration would not approve of. But the things that make these memories extra special are the laughs I have retelling them with the great friends I made at Carthage.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), 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.

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    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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 Intellectual Foundations.

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    • 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 in the Top 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 …