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Social Work

Student Voices

  • Brianna Hernandez '20

Brianna Hernandez ’20


Bensenville, Illinois


Social Work



Favorite spot on campus

“If I’m trying to get work done, the basement of the library is my favorite place to escape because it’s silent and everyone is so focused. Otherwise, my favorite place would have to be down by the beach. It just feels like I’m in a whole other world, and being able to relax and hear the waves is amazing.”

Brianna Hernandez ’20 is a social work major and sociology minor. After she graduates, she plans to go to graduate school to work toward becoming a licensed clinical social worker to work with children who have experienced trauma. 

Brianna chose Carthage because of the small class sizes and because it wasn’t too far from home. She’s been a member of the Chi Omega sorority since her freshman year, and is a member of Phi Alpha, the social work honor society, and Alpha Kappa Delta, the international society of sociology. 

Brianna thanks her family for their love and support, and for the sacrifices they made to ensure she could go to college. She credits her professors for fostering her love of social work and helping her succeed in her studies. 

“There are so many professors who have played a bigger role in my life than just the word ‘teacher’ can ever describe. They’ve each taught me something that I’ve gotten to take with me on my own personal journey.”


Career goal

“I’m hoping to be admitted into a graduate program where I can continue my social work education and further my knowledge of the clinical aspects of social work. My goal is to become an LCSW, helping children who have gone through trauma and who struggle with their mental wellness.”

Favorite professor

“Professor Danielle Geary, the best advisor and role model in so many ways, has taught me to fight for what I want and be resilient no matter what life throws at you. Professor Rebecca Hornung taught me to think outside of my bubble and how to think critically, a hard skill which I’m still trying to perfect. Additionally, Professor Debra Minsky-Kelly has been the best teacher. She really makes sure we understand the material and she always gives constructive feedback which is motivating.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class I’ve taken at Carthage was Trauma Across Social Contexts with Professor Debra Minsky-Kelly because it gave me a direction I want to go into for the future and I was so intrigued by it. I could probably go on and on about it, but if you have any interest in psychology, biology, or just the human brain in general, I would take this class! So many people have experienced some type of trauma. In this class, you’ll read many case studies showing the different types of trauma, how it affects people, and how it can be treated.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class has definitely been my statistics class with Professor Tian Tian because I am terrible with numbers and analysis! Even though it was hard for me, if she saw I was struggling, she always made herself available to spend extra time with me and go over things I wasn’t getting.”


“I was a social work intern at Janes Elementary. It was there that I was able to see how kids develop in their social environments and support them when they were struggling academically or socially. Being in a school environment all my life, I thought I knew exactly who these kids were, but this internship exposed me to the challenges I wasn’t aware that kids face today.

“I was also able to intern in a more clinical setting at Hospice Alliance. This was a challenging experience for me because of the wide range of emotions patients and their families were going through during the end stages of life, but I learned many valuable lessons and skills that will help me in the future, and I’m glad to have been able to meet so many amazing people.”


“I’m so thankful to have received the Springfield Scholarship because education is so important to my family and it means the world to me that Carthage has put faith in me and wants to see me succeed. This scholarship is so generous and I can’t be grateful enough.”

Favorite moments at Carthage

“All of my favorite memories definitely have to be from freshman year — that’s when I met and lived with my best friend. I remember it feeling like a sleepover every night — staying up way too late laughing and trying to figure out college together, going to football games, sledding after a huge blizzard, dances, ordering pizza late at night, having random dance parties in our tiny dorm packed with too many people — those are the nights I won’t forget for years down the line.

Biggest surprise so far?

“The biggest surprise for me has been how much I’ve grown from when I first began my social work journey to now going into my senior year. Not only have I matured but I’ve grown in confidence academically and personally. Additionally, just how close I’ve gotten to my peers has been a beautiful surprise. We’re fortunate enough to have each other in most of the same classes as a cohort and it’s really nice to lean on people who understand your workload and experiences with your internships — that support is huge for me.”

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

“I think my 8-year-old self would be pretty happy with the career path I’ve chosen. From a young age, I was so interested in people and how everyone was so different from each other and had their own personalities and quirks. I was an empathetic little kid who loved talking to all the kids in my class. I always asked a million questions so I think that’s pretty fitting for someone who wants to work in this field.”

Advice for other students considering your major

“If I could give some advice to someone who is considering social work as a major it would be to go into it with an open mind. You might have expectations of what social work will be, but I promise it’s so much more than your expectations. If you want to challenge yourself, the professors make it their mission for you to think deeply about yourself and find who you really are as a person. If you want to be a positive change in this world but have no idea where to begin, this major help you find and develop the skills and confidence to do so and I know this because it’s helped me in that way and I’m forever changed for the better because of this program.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), 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 Career Services.

    • 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 archaeology 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 $20,000 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 the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, 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 No. 3 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 …