Diego Alessandro Castañeda
Diego Alessandro Castañeda
Beach Park, Illinois
“Through building close relationships with several faculty and staff members at Carthage, I have quenched my fear of asking for help; there is always support available at Carthage.”
How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?
“My student success advisor at Carthage, Eli Marten, has helped me shape myself into the responsible person I am now. Since I began meeting with him as a first-year student, he addressed problems I had with managing my time outside of classes or staying organized. As I worked with him to fill in those gaps, slowly but surely, the notion of what it takes to succeed in my courses has solidified in my mind, and the tools to succeed made it into my arsenal.
“Many of the professors who teach classes I have taken on my journey to my degree in chemistry have made it apparent that they are happy to support us students however they can! The professors have been down to earth and are easy to talk to. The staff who work in the Health and Counseling Center have also made a profound impact on my career at Carthage. They helped me think through many of my concerns and reframe my mindset; the counseling sessions on campus served as a bridge to outside therapy services.
“The Aspire Center staff are invested in exploring career paths with you. My career advisor, Mandy Long, is showing me how to take a deeper dive into my career path so that I can make prototypes that fit who I am and what I wish to accomplish. Through building close relationships with several faculty and staff members at Carthage, I have quenched my fear of asking for help; there is always support available at Carthage.”
“My favorite class at Carthage so far is also one of the most arduous classes that a student majoring in chemistry, biology, environmental science, or neuroscience can take: Organic Chemistry. I had Professor Susan Stevenson for both semesters of this course, and I am so glad I had her as my professor. During lectures, Prof. Stevenson gave us students opportunities to test our knowledge with lots of practice questions; if a student answered incorrectly or showed that they were confused, Prof. Stevenson never judged them and instead knew just how to talk them through the correct mindset to solve a problem. She also hosted office hours on a regular basis, during which we could talk with her about anything from homework help to exam prep to guidance regarding our career paths! Furthermore, I quickly learned how to succeed in this course and thus set aside time when I could to provide some assistance to peers in need. Completing both semesters of Organic Chemistry solidified my confidence in being a chemistry major!”
“I am involved in a few campus organizations, such as the Carthage Activities Board (CAB), Mi Gente, Tea Club, Chemistry Club, and Theta Chi Delta (our campus’s honorary chemistry fraternity that I have recently been inducted into). CAB is one of the largest organizations on campus; we are responsible for planning and executing multiple on-campus events, from live performers to BINGO/trivia nights, DIY crafts, and open mic events. In Mi Gente, we foster a community in which Hispanic/Latinx culture is celebrated and shared. I am the vice president of Tea Club; we socialize while sampling a different tea each meeting. As a lover of tea, I am very happy to be in charge of this organization.
“But a lot of my extracurricular involvement on campus comes from me engaging in events hosted by other organizations. There are many fundraising events where you can get neat things and give some money to a worthy cause. Some organizations move activities off campus and bring them into the Kenosha area. One of my favorite events is the annual Rock Out for Autism event hosted by the Kappa Phi Eta sorority at the Kenosha Creative Space. Participants can perform open mic-style and support the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin! I always have a good time when I perform there.”
Favorite spot on campus
“My favorite spot on campus has to be the lawn overlooking Lake Michigan where the Kissing Rock sits. Whenever I’m walking up campus to head to an early morning class in the David A. Straz Jr. Center, I stop and appreciate the gorgeous sunrise there. When the weather is clear, chilling in one of those big, red lawn chairs while taking in that amazing view of the lake is therapeutic to me. The Kissing Rock is cool, too, with its ever-changing paint coating thanks to clubs and organizations advertising themselves and their events throughout the school year.”
Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?
“The Chemistry Department at Carthage is a tight-knit community; I’ve even seen some of my friends who have already graduated stay connected with us. To earn a degree in chemistry here, whether it be the Bachelor of Arts or the new Bachelor of Science offered, you will have to push through many classes in a few different STEM disciplines. But the keys that I have discovered to pushing through are finding study buddies to meet up with on a regular basis; never being afraid to reach out for academic, social, or mental help; taking detailed notes in class and reviewing those notes habitually; and most importantly, not getting discouraged if your first plan doesn’t work.
“Majoring in chemistry has molded me into the driven student I am today. I encourage incoming students who are looking to develop grit, find an academic belonging on campus, and become well trained for in-demand jobs to consider majoring in chemistry; if you choose so, I cheer you on and wish you all the best.”
“When I was searching for colleges, the first major wave of the COVID-19 pandemic had went over us. Because of this, I realized that some of my biggest priorities were being close to home and being close to my circle of support. Carthage advertised a great path for incoming students interested in chemistry, taking students all the way from the basics to courses that provide transferable skills to be used beyond college, all while providing opportunities for hands-on research in several fields. Additionally, Carthage is located only half an hour north of where I live in Illinois, allowing me to commute between college and home, and making my undergraduate plan substantially more affordable.
“Once I set foot on campus, boy was I in for a great surprise! The personal attention that faculty pay to students makes a real difference in students’ motivation; on top of that, there are countless clubs and organizations on campus that cater to anyone’s hobbies or interests, so getting involved on campus is a piece of cake. At the end of the day, Carthage became my home away from home, even if home was only driving distance from campus.”