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Student Voices

  • Katherine Cullinan '20

Katherine Cullinan ’20


Lisle, Illinois




Educational Studies

Favorite spot on campus

“The N.E. Tarble Athletics and Recreation Center of course! And when the TARC is closed, which is rare, I love studying in David A. Straz, Jr. Center that overlooks the lake.”

Career goal

“I honestly have no idea! I feel confident knowing I have a lot of options with sociology as my major. I know grad school is somewhere in my future, but I’m really enjoying the work I’ve been doing in Campus Recreation here.”

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

Professor Rick Matthews, my advisor and the department chair, has had a huge impact on my academic path. In an education system that rewards test scores and grades, Prof. Matthews rewards engagement and thoughtful learning. His teaching philosophy is refreshing and powerful, and he is a huge reason I changed my major to sociology. He also chooses not to own a cell phone, and studies and trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, if that tells you how cool he is.

Not exactly a professor, but Sam Craig, manager of the TARC and Campus Recreation, has had the greatest impact on my experience at Carthage. She sparked my passion for group fitness last year, and I’ve worked for her in the TARC for the past year. Sam has an incredible work ethic, crazy organization, and she does everything with passion. It’s been great to learn from her and grow from all the experiences.”

Favorite class

“One of my favorite classes was Issues in American History with Professor Eric Pullin. I learned so much that I never knew about our country’s history, and Prof. Pullin is an all-around fantastic professor, so it was great to learn from him.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class was also my favorite, Issues in American History! As with any class, getting fully engaged in the content can make the class more challenging, but it was so rewarding. Prof. Pullin pushed me, and I pushed myself to think critically and work hard in a way that I’m really proud of looking back.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Costa Rica during J-Term for a class called Open the Door: A Crash Course in Creativity. We learned about the music, art, and healing practices of indigenous and contemporary Costa Rican communities. I wish there were words to describe how incredible the experience was!”


“Attending college is undoubtedly a huge privilege, and I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to do so, but the expense of school can be overwhelming and discouraging at times. One of the major scholarships I received from Carthage was the Academic Honors Scholarship, which rewarded my hard work in high school and encouraged me to maintain that work ethic while studying at Carthage.”

Campus involvement

“I’m a member of Latinx United. We recently went to a conference in Chicago called United States Hispanic Leadership Institute. I’m also super involved at the TARC. I teach kickboxing and spin classes through the Campus Recreation Program. I’m a student lead on the TARC staff, the people you see at the desks in the control room, Semler Fitness Center, and Field House. I also work with Sam Craig and other members of our team on projects and events for Campus Rec, like the Every Kid Needs a Superhero 5k.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“I lived on a really social floor my freshman year, so I’ll never forget the random adventures my floormates and I shared, like rolling down the hall on our suitcases or attempting to cook family dinner on a George Foreman. Another one of my favorite things is to wake up to watch the sun rise over the lake. It never gets old!”

Biggest surprise so far

“I was a psychology major for about a month and changed to social science and secondary education because I’d thought about teaching my whole life. Now I’m in sociology. So, I think the biggest surprise was realizing that my passions were shifting and that the career I dreamed of my whole life was no longer of interest to me. Taking advantage of opportunities to explore other interests at Carthage has been a rewarding and liberating experience!”

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

“I think my 8-year-old self would be pretty impressed with who I am today, including my studies and career path. Back when I was eight I thought I was supposed to finish school and then be a stay-at-home mom, so I’m pretty thrilled that I have more options than just that.”

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

“There are so many opportunities to explore what interests you, and the faculty members within the department have a way of keeping you engaged and eager to learn. Try all sorts of different classes and don’t be afraid to listen to your gut. Talk to people in the field, talk to your professors, and know that you don’t have to have your whole life figured out right now!”


Madeline Paakkonen ’21
  • 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.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 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.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • 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.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • 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.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • 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.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • 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 …