During her time at Carthage, Caitlin Zant made an impact in both of her departments as the only Class of 2012 graduate to focus on historical geography for her Senior Thesis.
She is now a maritime archaeologist with the Wisconsin Historical Society based in Madison. She attributes her success and position to Carthage’s amazing faculty, liberal arts focus, and many opportunities for fulfilling, unique experiences along the way.
“I would likely not be in the career I am today if I had not attended Carthage. It truly was a remarkable experience.”
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
“I really enjoy the diversity that this career brings and the excitement that people have when they learn about something new. You never know what you will discover, and there is such a wide breadth to the study of maritime archaeology that it ties into almost every aspect of human history. Maritime archaeology encompasses the study of human’s interaction with water, so it spans the globe, but it is also something that can still be seen in your backyard. I also really enjoy being able to see artifacts and shipwrecks that in many cases, no one has seen in over one-hundred years. It gives you a snapshot of how life was at a specific point in history that you wouldn’t normally get to see.”
How did Carthage prepare you?
“Pretty much every aspect of my Carthage experience helped prepare me for this career. The ability to easily graduate with a double major allowed me to explore the study of history through a geographical perspective, a perspective that is many times overlooked in each individual field of study, and it is something that I was able to directly apply to my career in maritime archaeology.”
“At its root, maritime history and archaeology are geographical. Additionally, the liberal arts focus at Carthage really allowed me to explore a lot of different interests and mold my college experience into something very unique, which helped me figure out where I wanted to go after college. The focus on writing and public speaking was incredibly helpful as I moved into my master’s program, and into my career. As maritime archaeologists, we are constantly writing reports, both for academic purposes and for public consumption. My ability to communicate comes in handy almost every day as we have to give public presentations and conduct outreach events on a regular basis.”
How has your liberal arts education helped you?
“I’m not sure that I have one specific example of when the liberal arts skills I gained at Carthage helped the most, but they help me almost every day. Critical thinking and being able to attack problems from multiple angles is something that I have to do almost every day in research, fieldwork, public outreach, and when managing volunteers. When looking at a particularly complicated archaeological site, or tough research question, the skills I learned at Carthage really help me know how to come up with unique solutions. Additionally, my ability to communicate comes in handy almost every day as we have to give public presentations and conduct outreach events on a regular basis.”
Tips for current Carthage students:
“Take advantage of all the opportunities Carthage has to offer. If there is a class you can take that allows you to take field trips to Chicago or Milwaukee, take it. If you have the opportunity to take a class about the history and mythology of pirates, take it. Also, don’t keep yourself inside the box of one area of study. Explore different things, and be a part of different disciplines.”
“That is one of the most unique things I think Carthage offers, the relative ease to explore so many different areas of interest and study. I was a history and geography major who participated heavily in the Theater Department. They may seem wildly different, but in many ways, they are connected. It allows you to bring new perspectives and learn things that were completely unexpected. Don’t be afraid to try new things.”
Favorite Carthage memories:
“There are probably too many memories to count, but truly, my experiences at Carthage completely shaped how I am today. I look back on my time at Carthage and think of all the amazing opportunities that I had, friendships that I made, and ideas that I explored that I would not have had the opportunity to do elsewhere. In many ways, I would likely not be in the career I am today if I had not attended Carthage. It truly was a remarkable experience.”