Maren Schutz ’15 came to Carthage to pursue a degree in music and become a music teacher for an elementary school.
Then she went on a Carthage J-Term study tour to Namibia. The study tour was led by music professor Peter Dennee, and it changed her life. She realized on the study tour that she wanted to do two things that weren’t in her original plan: travel — and devote part of her life to service.
She is now a volunteer for the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission group, living and working in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar. She teaches English language and culture to local students of all ages, working at several schools that vary in need, including SeMaFi, a school for deaf children. Ms. Schutz also helps teach an English club in her community, which is open to all members of the Masombahoaka community.
Ms. Schutz graduated summa cum laude from Carthage, and while here, made the Dean’s List every semester. She was the recipient of several scholarships including the Carthage College Music Department Scholarship; the Carthage Academic Honors Scholarship; the Carthage ELCA Scholarship; and the Dr. Robert D. Wolff, the Rev. Jack and Marian Nitz, the Wilfred and Marie Sonntag, and the Bothe endowed scholarships.
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
“I enjoy the adventure that comes with living in a new place: language, culture, geography, and most importantly, people. I have felt radical hospitality from the people of this country from the moment I stepped off the plane.”
How did Carthage prepare you?
“I traveled to Namibia for J-Term in June 2013 for Dr. Peter Dennee’s class Namibia: A Sociocultural Journey. This trip was my first time out of the country, and it changed my life significantly. During our time there, we worked with several other Namibian people, and built a Hope Garden for a family living in poverty. Before we began building, the Carthage group and our Namibian friends held hands in a circle around the plot of land where the garden was to be built and sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ At this moment, I knew I wanted to commit part of my life to service.”
How has your liberal arts education helped you?
“I think of my Music Methods classes with Judy Kirby quite often when I’m trying to come up for lesson plans for my students.
“I teach primary school, secondary school, university level, and adults almost every day. However, none of them have English as their first language! I think of my methods classes often: how I can meet students where they already are, how I can use their interests to help my teaching, and how to make my teaching as student-centered as possible.
“I have discovered that the Malagasy people LOVE to sing. I also discovered that they know the tune (and Malagasy words) to ‘Silent Night.’ I have used this as a teaching tool: using what they already know and love, and teaching them something new with it. My students at the deaf school performed the song for me in sign language and Malagasy as I accompanied them on ukulele, and my heart overflowed with love and memories of Christmas Fest at Carthage. It was an incredible experience.”
Tips for current Carthage students:
“When I came to Carthage, I was set on studying music, graduating, and being an elementary music teacher. I never imagined myself putting all of that on hold and spending my first year after graduation living in Madagascar.
“No matter how sure, or unsure, you are of what you want to do with your life, always keep an open heart and open mind to the many incredible opportunities life has to offer. Also, don’t limit yourself to have only the talents which you refined in college. You are more capable and helpful than your degree!”
Favorite Carthage memories:
“Christmas Fest weekend was always one of my favorite weekends at Carthage. I loved the preparation and the performance, and experiencing it all with my friends and family. I loved being a part of the Music Department: my private lessons, my classes, and making music and friendships with my peers and professors through it all!”