Miranda Paikowski ’20 has succeeded in her goal “to make the most of every opportunity” by expanding her already astounding impact on campus. The Presidential Scholarship recipient has earned numerous achievements through her studies abroad, award-winning choreography, and political cartoons featured in The Current, Carthage’s student newspaper.
Miranda credits her success and involvement to Carthage’s small class sizes and challenging courses, which encourage close professor-student relationships while simultaneously increasing opportunities outside of the classroom.
“After graduating from Carthage College, I hope to move to France for one to two years and teach English to high school level students. After returning to the United States, I hope to further my education and earn my master’s degree and doctorate in English. I would like to become a professor at a small, private college like Carthage.”
“One professor who has had a large impact on my time at Carthage is Stacy Pottinger, who organizes and teaches in the Dance Program. Professor Pottinger gave me the opportunity to choreograph for the student-run spring dance show. I worked with an amazing group of dancers and was able to watch them grow as artists. I taught a five-minute tap piece, which was awarded an Ashby award for best choreography. None of this would have been possible if Professor Pottinger did not encourage me to be involved in the spring show.
“I also traveled to Duluth, Minnesota, with Professor Pottinger and a small group of dancers for the American College Dance Association’s North-Central Conference. At this conference, I was able to perform and take multiple master classes, as well as see other dancers perform their pieces. Overall, this experience helped to expand my understanding of dance as an important art form. I was able to see how Professor Pottinger’s passion for dance impacts her discussions and activities in class.”
“My favorite class at Carthage so far has been American Literature, due to the class’s content, my professor, and the relationship between all of the students in the class. I was always so eager to go to that class. Every class period provided a unique learning experience. My professor, Shannon Brennan, was very enthusiastic about the class, and her excitement during our discussions made the students more interested in the subject. This class, in particular, helped me to grow as a reader, writer, and thinker.”
“My toughest class at Carthage so far has been Advanced French, but I also believe this class to be the most rewarding. This class focused most of its attention on grammar, which I often found incredibly difficult to grasp. However, I also remember the sense of pride I felt when I finally mastered something. In this course, I was challenged to read stories in French and watch French news reports, which led to a drastic improvement in my abilities. This class gave me the push I needed to feel more confident with French as one of my majors.”
Opportunities at Carthage
“I chose Carthage because of the endless opportunities available to students. For example, Carthage offers the chance to take J-Term study tours, which allow students to expand upon their studies in new, exciting places. Last year, I had the opportunity to travel to the Franco-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe for two weeks. While there, I was able to broaden my knowledge of the French language while becoming immersed in the island’s French culture. Carthage also allows students to develop a close relationship with their professors, as the class sizes are usually small. My first year at Carthage, I had one class, Advanced Jazz, in which there were only six students and another class, Advanced French, which only contained eight students. Carthage is a great place for students to feel a sense of community as they continue their studies.”
“I was awarded the Clausen Presidential Scholarship, which provides me with four years of full tuition at Carthage. I am forever grateful to my donors because I can attend school without the added stress of wondering how I will acquire the money to pay for my undergrad education. This scholarship has also reminds me of the benefits of hard work, and it drives me to be an active member of the Carthage community while striving for success in my studies.”
“My first year at Carthage, I got involved in the student-run newspaper, The Current. My contributions to the paper were primarily political cartoons, which were published in the paper regularly. On one occasion, a political cartoon of mine was used as the cover art, which was definitely a memorable experience. Working for the paper also helped me communicate with many other members of the Carthage community. One great aspect of the paper is that anyone can join. There are a wide range of jobs and it is not limited to a certain major. Joining The Current was one of the best things I decided to do at Carthage. I highly recommend it to any student hoping to branch out.
“Another group I joined at Carthage is the English Players. The English Players is a group of Carthage students and staff who meet on a weekly basis to rehearse scenes from Shakespeare plays, which they later perform to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday. Last year, I was a part of the English Players’ production of Macbeth. The best part of this on-campus group is that no acting experience is required to be involved. I had no acting experience prior to joining, yet I was still given four small roles in the play. For me, joining this club forced me to step out of my comfort zone, but I felt constantly supported by the staff leaders and fellow members. Performing Macbeth was a rewarding experience and the path leading up to the performance was filled with memorable experiences.”
Favorite moments at Carthage
“One of my favorite memories so far at Carthage was attending the Kick Off Carnival during the first week of school. I went to this event on a whim with a few other students I had met in Western Heritage class earlier that day. While at the Carnival, we made memories watching live-band karaoke, getting animal balloons, and playing with a giant Light Bright board. The event sparked some great friendships. Attending the Carnival was a great way to kick off freshman year and my time at Carthage.”
Biggest surprise so far?
“My biggest surprise so far at Carthage has been the extent of opportunities available to students. In just one year, I have been able to travel to the Caribbean, attend a dance conference in Minnesota, and choreograph a piece for the student dance show. I feel so grateful for all of these opportunities and am enthusiastic to experience even more in the years to come.”
What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?
“When I was 8 years old, I remember having a great love for books. That was the year I first opened up a Harry Potter book, and I loved the feeling of being completely immersed in a new world. I would read for hours on end, something that I continue to do today. Looking back, it makes sense that I am now an English major. I love thinking deeply about texts and discovering the magic in a book’s pages. I think my 8-year-old self would be pleased to see that my passion for reading has not faded, but has continued to grow and is now the focus of my career path.”
Advice for other students considering your major
“For other students considering a major in English, I would highly recommend taking advantage of office hours. Meeting with your professors will only strengthen your understanding of the material and show your professors that you care about their class.”