Spanish and Sociology
Women’s and Gender Studies
“I recently went on a J-Term study tour to Peru called The Role of Tourism and its Effect on Women and the Environment in Peru. We studied the effects of tourism on both the environment and indigenous women. This trip was absolutely phenomenal!”
“I chose Carthage for multiple reasons: First, my mom is an alumna, so there is some generational history when it comes to this institution. Second, I was greatly intrigued by the study abroad programs that Carthage offers. Finally, I received the Ruud Scholarship and Alumni Association Scholarship, which made it financially possible for me to commit to this school. Also, who doesn’t love the gorgeous Lake Michigan that caresses Carthage’s shores?”
“Carthage faculty have been nothing but supportive thus far. Just a couple of names that come to mind are Professor Maribel Morales and Professor Stephanie Mitchell. The professors at Carthage want you to succeed! If you have questions, concerns, or any doubts, they are all ears and willing to help you get back on your feet. They have a lot of life wisdom to share outside of academic life, and I am so grateful for their continuous love and care.”
“My favorite class by far has been Arts of Africa taught by Professor Jody Berman. After taking this class, I knew I wanted to study something along the lines of anthropology or sociology. This class made me think outside of the western standard. For example, the definition of art, our concept of time, and our inherent values are not universal. I learned the importance of cultural relativism and staying away from ethnocentric viewpoints.”
“My toughest class has been African American Religion taught by Professor Julius Crump. This class was challenging because of the intensive reading. I took this course over J-Term, which meant the readings, that were already intellectually dense, increased in quantity. I am naturally a slow reader, so I struggled to keep up with all of the material. However, this has also been one of the most rewarding courses. Like so many other courses at Carthage, it taught me more critical thinking skills for which I am incredibly grateful.”
“I am involved in the Martial Arts Club on campus. My roommate and I decided to go to the first Martial Arts Club meeting in the fall, and now we enjoy practicing taekwondo, jiu-jitsu, and tai chi with other students. I am also on the e-board for Intervarsity, which is a Christian club on campus. We have Bible studies, large groups, outreach events, and yearly conferences.
“I also am a part of Carthachords, an acapella group on campus. My favorite song we performed at our last conference was a mashup of “Potential Breakup Song” by Aly & AJ and “Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigo. I am also the Interfaith Lunch Co-coordinator with my colleague Mara Lysne. We bring in weekly speakers (professors, community organizers, and students) from a variety of faith and non-faith-based backgrounds.”
“I recently went on a J-Term study tour to Peru called The Role of Tourism and its Effect on Women and the Environment in Peru. We studied the effects of tourism on both the environment and indigenous women. This trip was absolutely phenomenal! Some highlights include Rainbow Mountain, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, Willoq, and Amantani Island. The trip broadened my outlook as a global citizen and made me a more aware individual in a world with such rich cultural diversity. I feel so privileged that I got to be a part of it!”
“Currently, I am on student staff for the Center for Faith and Spirituality as an Interfaith Lunch Co-coordinator and I really enjoy my position there. Whatever I end up exploring and undertaking after I graduate from college, I hope it will be community-oriented and with a company that values cultural diversity.”
Favorite spot on campus
“My favorite spot on campus is Einstein’s Bagels. I can people-watch, enjoy the lake view from the window, munch on a cinnamon sugar bagel, and study quite effectively — so I’m happy!”
“My favorite Carthage memories include my lovely roommate Nina Werger. I think no matter where you go, the people you meet make the place feel like home. I am incredibly fortunate to have met a friend for life and am beyond grateful for her. However, the Snickers ice cream bars that the Red Zone offers are a close second!”
“The biggest surprise so far has been how I manage to jam-pack my schedule with so many activities. When people ask me what I am involved in, I answer with this list: 4-6 classes, my CFS student staff position, Intervarsity Large Group Coordinator, Martial Arts, Carthachords, and tutoring. Somehow, I also manage to squeeze in working out, eating, reading, playing music, dancing, and spending lots of time with friends. I have gained a lot of respect for my Google Calendar, which keeps me disciplined and organized.”
Advice for other students in your major?
“At the end of the day, we are all human beings who crave social interaction in some form. I find the interactions throughout society, whether direct or indirect, to be fascinating in how people view the world, and that is exactly what the sociology major allows me to study. I love thinking critically and deconstructing what I believe to be normal. It is also amazing to see how many outside forces (religious institutions, school, social media, family, peers, economic structure, neighborhood dynamics, etc.) shape a person’s identity and values. This is why I chose to major in sociology — I never get bored of learning about how our culture molds our relationships and social behavior.
“I am also a Spanish major. I believe languages are one of if not the most important gateways to understanding and appreciating a different culture. It’s also been proven that people who speak multiple languages are more creative, have a better memory (your brain is building more connections than someone who is monolingual), and demonstrate better performance in a variety of academic areas.
“Also, I speak German at home and it is so fun to have a ‘secret language’ out in public whenever we need to share something not everyone needs to understand. My advice to people who are undecided is not to stress about it. I was undecided for my entire freshman year. I did this on purpose because I wanted to keep all of my doors of interest open. Whatever you choose, study that which fascinates you!”
What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?
“I think 8-year-old Serena would be happy where she’s at right now. I’ve always been a curious learner, asking ‘Why?’ every chance I get, and that hasn’t changed between being 8 years old and 19 years old. I also think that 8-year-old Serena would tell herself to calm down regarding the fact that she is unsure of where her future will go. She would remind me to take life step by step and remember to stop to smell the roses along the way.”
“I received both the Ruud Scholarship and the Alumni Association Scholarship. Receiving these scholarships mean the world to me because I am paying for college on my own, and if I did not have the financial aid Carthage offered to me, I would not be able to attend this school. Therefore, I am beyond grateful to have the financial support to be a curious and avid learner.”