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Student Voices

  • Jess Thierfelder '20

Jess Thierfelder ’20


Franksville, WI


Graphic Design, Studio Art

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite spot on campus is behind Tarble. I spent a lot of time there climbing around with friends, sitting on the rocks, watching the waves, and having a quiet place to think. The sunrises over the lake never get old and the sound of the waves is always relieving no matter what is going on in my life.”

Career goal

My goal after graduation is to find a place where I can incorporate both my studio art practice and graphic design skills into whatever I’m creating. I would love to be able to build a reputation for myself as a freelance artist, designer, and illustrator. My biggest priority after graduation is continuing my own personal art practice and hopefully having a studio of my own.”

Favorite professor

Professor Ryan Miller has not only impacted my college career, but my entire life. He taught me how to think about art in ways I never even considered before college. 

Professor Jojin Van Winkle always goes the extra mile, and I’ve always admired how she would drop whatever she was doing just to help a student in need. When I was freaking out about my senior thesis exhibition, she helped me organize my thoughts and comforted me when I needed it the most.”

Favorite class

“My favorite art class at Carthage was Illustration. Our class did a lot of different projects, and I liked the change of pace. We made a comic strip, book cover illustrations, and caricatures. This class opened my eyes to several styles and approaches to illustration and how relevant it is in the world around me.”

Toughest class

“The toughest class I’ve taken within my studio art major at Carthage was Sophomore Seminar in Studio Art. This class intellectually challenged everything I had previously been taught about making and experiencing art. I can easily say this class changed my life. My studio practice hasn’t been the same since I’ve taken this class, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. This class was so frustrating and confusing at times, but was absolutely necessary to expand and reshape my artistic practice.”


“I am currently a graphic design intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications, and I absolutely love it! I get to create T-shirts and brochures for the college I go to. I never realized just how much goes into producing visual elements for an entire college, and I’ve learned so much. I’ve become more proficient in both the design programs and my design skills.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“For two years, I was a H.F. Johnson Gallery of Art gallery assistant on campus. I learned about installing exhibitions, met artists, and even curated my own exhibition in the Hedberg Library! While this job came with some long, laborious days, it was an opportunity I wouldn’t change for anything. It was always so satisfying looking around the gallery after installing a show.”


“I received an Academic Scholarship along with the Fine Arts Scholarship. Without these scholarships, going to Carthage might not have been a comfortable option for me. Not only did it help financially, but it made me feel more confident in myself and in my career path.”

Campus involvement

“I joined Delta Theta Epsilon my freshman year, and it has been so amazing watching the sorority grow into what it is today! When I joined, there were 12 girls, and now there are well over 20.

“I’m also a member of Kappa Pi. I have a lot of fun getting together with fellow art majors, enjoying each others company, planning events around campus, and even tie-dyeing shirts. This group was really somewhere I felt I could be myself while also representing the Art Department on campus.”

Favorite moments at Carthage

“Some of my favorite memories include going on field trips for art classes. I’ve went to the Museum of Contemporary Art and saw the coolest exhibition. It was titled “I was Raised on the Internet” and featured video, installation, and even virtual reality. After the mandatory part of the field trip, the entire class went home with the exception of me and another art student. Prof. Winkle took both of us out for coffee in the city to another really amazing exhibition, and then we waited till dark so that we could watch some video projections on the Merchandise Mart. Spending the day in Chicago with my professor and another art student was so much fun, and it’s a day I will never forget!”

Biggest surprise so far?

“I think the biggest surprise so far is all the opportunities I’ve gotten at Carthage. From art gallery assistant to graphic design intern, I never thought I was capable of being the person to receive these opportunities, but Carthage faculty and staff have pushed me to be the best version of myself. Carthage has shown me so many things that I didn’t know about myself and my potential.”

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

“I think 8-year-old me would be really confused, but really intrigued, which isn’t far off from how I feel now. The good thing is that the confusing part of this career path is how many creative possibilities are present all the time–it can be overwhelming. However, the possibilities make this career path liberating. I’m always wanting to learn more about relevant artists/designers and skills that I could add to make my work even better.”

Advice for other students considering your major

“You get what you put into the studio art major at Carthage. If you don’t use time out of class to work on things, it will show in the work that you’re making. If you treat these classes like something you just need to show up for and do the bare minimum, your experience and studio practice will suffer. This major comes with a lot of intellectually challenging hurdles, but don’t be afraid to think differently and ask hard questions.”


Madeline Paakkonen ’21
  • 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 …