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Student Voices

  • Ashley Cedeno '19

Ashley Cedeno ’19


Blue Island, Illinois


Social Work


Political Science, Spanish

Favorite spot on campus


As the president of Carthage’s Social Work Honors Society, Phi Alpha, Ashley Cedeno’s passion for her major is clear. Working toward a future career in social work, Ashley has had many meaningful experiences through Carthage’s exciting classes and her work with helpful staff.

Ashley has gone on two J-Term study tours, to Guatemala and Costa Rica. Both tours gave her new perspective, and strengthened her love and pride for her field. “Studying social work is a humbling experience and it helps you grow both intellectually and as a human being.”

Ashley continues to be an active participant on campus, involving herself in Animal Rights and Activism Club, Philosophy Club, and Student Government.

“I chose Carthage because of the small classroom sizes, the beautiful campus, and because its location is close enough to home where I could visit on the weekends!”

Career goal

“I’m not completely sure what I want to do after Carthage, but I do know that I would like to either work with children, as a school social worker or caseworker, or work on a macro-level to change and propose policies that benefit marginalized groups in society.”

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

“Professor Rebecca Hornung has had a major impact on my life and Carthage career. I have had two courses with her so far, and I have learned so much from her. I hope to one day be as compassionate and involved with the community as she is. She has an abundance of experiences working with marginalized groups in society, and her input in the classroom has really helped me learn and aspire to be the change in the world. Becki is an amazing person and a beautiful human being.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class at Carthage was a J-Term course on campus titled The Wire: Exploring Institutional Oppression and Social Change, with Professor Hornung. During this course, we watched a season of ‘The Wire‘ (HBO) and really dug deep into the issues that are still very present in our society today regarding racism and institutional oppression. I learned an extensive amount in this course and it completely changed how I view the world. I 100 percent recommend this course to absolutely anyone, no matter what major they are. I enjoyed this course so much and learned so much that I strongly believe it should be mandatory for every Carthage student because of how informative and beneficial it was for me.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class was my Chemistry class freshman year. I’m not a science person at all; so much so that I withdrew from the course and instead fulfilled my LAB credit on a J-Term study tour.”

Internships or on-campus employment

“I have had a couple of internships including one at KAFASI, or the Kenosha Area Family Aging Services Inc., where I assisted in an elderly home. It was essentially similar to a daycare and I helped organize games and movie days while mingling with the elderly. I also interned at the Kenosha Job Center, where I aided individuals who were unemployed to either fill out job applications or write resumes.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“I have gone on two J-Term study tours. One year I went to Guatemala for a Spanish Immersion course, and I recently went to Costa Rica for an Ecology in the Rainforest course.”


“I received the Presidential Dahl Scholarship, which covers 75 percent of tuition, not including room and board. This scholarship has really been a blessing. I do not think I would still be attending Carthage if it weren’t for this scholarship and I’m so grateful.”

Campus involvement

“I am the president of Phi Alpha, the Social Work Honors Society here at Carthage. I am also involved in Animal Rights & Activism Club, Philosophy Club, CURE, and Open Table. I also hold a Senate position in Student Government.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“Some of my favorite Carthage moments include spending time on the rocks by the lake with friends, traveling for J-Term, and meeting new people.”

Biggest surprise so far

“The biggest surprise for me here at Carthage was how much I actually enjoy my classes. I came into college with an undecided major, but once I realized social work was perfect for me and started taking the courses, I fell in love even more with this career path. I didn’t expect to be this excited about my classes, but it was a very nice surprise.”

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

“I think my 8-year-old self would be incredibly happy and excited about my career path. I’ve always had a passion for helping people. My 8 year-old-self always found ways to try to make people happy and help, even in the most minimal of ways.”

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

“Although social work is often a thankless career, it is so worth it. Studying social work is a humbling experience and it helps you grow both intellectually and as a human being. My advice is to build strong relationships with your peers and, most importantly, be the change you want to see in the world.”


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 …