Charlene Hoffman

Class Year



Palatine, Ill.





“I chose Carthage because it was a small school, with an excellent chemistry program,” Charlene Hoffman said. She also liked the proximity to home and the feeling of community that she experienced. As a Chemistry major, Charlene has been able to work hands-on with the professors and she found a field that she truly loves to study. “Other students should consider a chemistry major for many reasons. You could become a pharmacist, or get into research. There’s plenty of opportunities out there! The applications are endless,” she remarked.

Charlene has been involved in a few different extracurriculars during her time here, including the carthage women’s water polo team. “You gain this camaraderie with the other athletes that you don’t see with your classmates, and you learn things you never knew that you never knew. It also helps that it’s great exercise,” she said. One of her favorite moments in water polo was winning the longest game in NCAA history. “It was probably one of the most exciting moments of my entire college career thus far.”  

“The biggest surprise for me so far at Carthage is just how much of a community the campus is. I mean, I know people in every major there is.”

Charlene Hoffman, ’15

Career goal

“Once I graduate from Carthage, I want to join the Peace Corps to help people in need in a way that will make a difference in individuals’ lives.”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

Dr. Walter Smith, my Organic Chemistry professor, probably had one of the biggest impacts on me thus far at Carthage. I’d always had it easy in school, whizzing by on good grades with minimal effort, but he managed to finally make it sink in that I won’t always be able to do that. Despite it being a hard lesson to learn, I’m glad that I learned it when I did, instead of in a class like Thesis or something. That was the first C I had ever gotten for a semester grade. But it was well and truly earned for what it was.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class at Carthage thus far was Norse Religion. As my second religion class, I wasn’t entirely looking forward to it, but a few of my friends recommended it, so I signed up for it. I’m so glad I did, because I learned more stuff that was applicable to my daily life than any other class I could imagine having taken. Learning in that class wasn’t a chore; it came naturally from the discussions we had. The readings we were assigned were more like things I would have read on my own in time than they were the dreaded word ‘homework’.”

Campus involvement

“I’ve been on the Carthage Water Polo team for three years now, and I must say, it is a wholly different experience than anything you can be taught in a classroom. … I’m also a part of the Magic The Gathering club on campus. I may have only just started playing the game less than a year ago, but the people in the club were always very supporting and friendly, and I know that the friendships built there are ones that I doubt I could have found anywhere else. They are unique and wonderful in their own right.”

Toughest class

“The toughest class I have had at Carthage so far would probably be my Organic Chemistry 2 class. It was also the semester I really learned the meaning of time management. I was OK in the beginning of the semester, but the more in depth we went, the less I could get away with ‘cramming the hour before’ like I was so used to doing. The material itself wasn’t as hard as I made it out to be, and I know now that if I had actually applied myself, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it, but the fact that I made it harder on myself all the time is what really did me in for that class.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“I have many really amazing memories from my time at Carthage, but I’ll mention just a few of them. The first was what a group of us have dubbed ‘J-Term shenanigans’ and it started out with an all-night game night down in the Student Union. We played everything from Twister to Evil Bunnies to SkipBo (it was a first for me!) to Harry Potter Clue. I think all of us slept through the entire day Saturday after that. Another favorite time was when I was invited by a group of seniors (I was a junior) who had just finished thesis to a LazerTag event they were having to let off stress of thesis. I reminded them that I didn’t have thesis, but they said to come anyway because I was friends with all of them. One of the most recent magnificent times was actually not on campus. It was at the regional tournament for the water polo team, and we were playing our last game of the season, for third place. It was the longest water polo game of NCAA history ever recorded when Amanda scored, giving the Firebirds yet another win.”

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite spot on campus is the pool. Easily. Whether it’s loud and rowdy during a scrimmage, or quiet during free-swim hours in the middle of the day, it’s a place I can go to escape the stress of the rest of my life. It’s a place I can go with friends or by myself and come out in just as good a mood. It’s a place I can relax and drift (or rather, float) away for a while, and it’s a place I can cry without it being noticed (because everyone has those moments). It’s a place I can express myself without being judged.”

Biggest surprise so far

“In high school, I always thought that no matter where I went to college, I would only make friends in my major (chemistry) or maybe in biology or physics, since there are classes that overlap in those fields. But never would I have guessed that I would be just as close to the other people on campus, too. But that’s a good thing, at least in my opinion!”

What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?

“If I were my immature 8-year-old self, looking at me now, I would be jealous. I would think ‘It’s not fair, why does she get wear a cool tie-dyed lab coat and awesome glasses and make things blow up? I can’t do that! I wanna make potions too, like they do at Hogwarts! That’s where you go, right? Because you make pretty colored potions!’”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“A chemistry major sounds scary to a lot of people, and at times, it can be (I won’t lie about that). But the things you learn make up for it ten-fold. What you learn is so bizarre at times, you wonder if it’s real or if the professor is pulling your leg, but once you understand it, it’s like Dr. Blaine says: ‘You’re one step closer to coming out of the cave, look at what you can see now.’ There are things out there that you don’t know that you don’t know, and a chemistry major will go a long way to helping you realize that.”