Skip to main content

Social Work

Student Voices

  • Sienna Hirsch '20 cropped

Sienna Hirsch ’20


Greenfield, WI


Social Work


Spanish, Studio Art

Favorite spot on campus

“I really like Straz. I like the open space, the comfy chairs, and the view of the lake.”

Focused on social work and Spanish at Carthage, Sienna Hirsch has been able to extensively explore both fields through internships in the area, multiple J-Term study tours abroad, and her strong presence within the Carthage community.

Throughout her travels, made possible by Carthage’s many study abroad options, Sienna has visited Spain and Guatemala during J-Term and has plans to attend a Costa Rica and Panama tour in 2020. She also spent one semester in the Dominican Republic where she was able to exponentially improve her Spanish. The places, people, and cultures she has experienced on these trips have created some of her favorite Carthage memories thus far.

On-campus, Sienna is involved in many of Carthage’s student-run clubs and organizations and has interned at a variety of locations in the field of social work in the surrounding area.

After graduation, Sienna hopes to continue studying social work abroad, possibly in Mexico. She encourages other social work majors to get involved in the Department and invites them to reach out to her for advice.

“In the Social Work Department, everyone has the common goal of seeking social change and justice. We may have different areas of interest, but when you look at the big picture, you can see that what we really care about is the wellbeing of others.”


Career goal

As of right now, my long term dream is to live in Mexico and do creative arts therapy with kids in foster care. After I graduate, I would like to go to a Bible Institute in Mexico. It is called Palabra de Vida (Word of Life) and it is located in Bernal, Queretaro. Eventually, I would like to get licensed in creative arts therapy.”

Favorite professor

Dani Geary is one of my favorite professors and she was a big influence on me changing my major to social work (I actually came into Carthage as an environmental science major). One day I went to her office to talk about the social work major and this is how our dialogue went:

Prof. Geary: ‘Now, there are two questions I ask people when they are considering social work. One, are you the person your friends usually come to for advice?’
Me: ‘Yeah…’
Prof. Geary: ‘Okay, and do you find that random people come up to you and tell you very personal things about their lives?’
Me: ‘Yes!’
Prof. Geary: ‘Okay, then you’re a social worker.’”

“The rest is history.”

“My other favorite professors at Carthage besides Dani Geary are Jeffrey Seymour, Matt Borden, and Gerald Glidden.”

Favorite class

“I have had two favorite classes as far as on-campus courses go. One of them was the J-Term course From Gatsby to L.A. Cool. It was a literature and ballroom dance course taught by Michael Mattek. I love dancing, so this was a great way to combine it into a classroom setting. We learned the dances relative to the time periods of the books we read.”

“My other favorite course was Spanish 3010 with Matt Borden. I loved that our homework was watching a telenovela. I also saw my Spanish improve immensely from that course. Not only that, but my confidence in speaking grew. Borden’s teaching style really prepared me for the Spanish competency exam.”

Toughest class

“Economics… I can never wrap my head around it.”


“I have had field placements within my social work courses. For Human Behavior in the Social Environment, we worked at the Shalom Center for seven weeks. I actually was able to do my Social Work Practice I while I was abroad. I worked at a public school in the Dominican Republic. Last semester for Social Work Practice II, I was with the New Horizon Center, a child-placing agency in Milwaukee. This year I will be interning at Healthcare Network in Racine.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“During my freshman year at Carthage, I was involved with both the fall and spring dance shows. I have had lots of opportunities to study abroad with Carthage. I have been on both Guatemala and Spain Spanish language immersion study tours. I also studied abroad for a semester in the Dominican Republic. This next J-Term I am planning on going to Costa Rica and Panama for the course ‘Open the Door: A Collision Course in Creativity.’”


“Yes, I receive the Springfield Scholarship every year and I also received the Valentine-Joy Scholarship for one year. These scholarships are very important to me and my family because we are not financially able to pay for all the expenses at Carthage. Receiving this aid has not only significantly helped relieve a financial burden, but also has made it possible for me to study at a college where my aspirations are becoming a reality.”

Campus involvement

“I am a part of InterVaristy. It is one of the campus’ Christian outreach organizations. Through InterVarsity, I have met some of my good friends and mentors. IV also provides lots of opportunities for conferences. The moments at those conferences have been life-changing and definitely one of the greatest things I am taking away from my college experience. I am also a part of Alpha Mu Gamma, the foreign language honor society, as well as Phi Alpha, the social work honor society. I also try my best to attend Rock Climbing Club when I don’t have a class that interferes with the club time.”

Favorite moments at Carthage

“Any of the experiences I have had on study tours abroad or during the InterVarsity conferences are definitely unforgettable. Some of the best times I have had are with my best friend Ryen Cunningham. We actually weren’t together all of last year because I was abroad in the fall, we went on separate J-Term tours, and then she studied abroad in the spring. I didn’t realize how much time we spent together until I had to do regular college life without her.”

Biggest surprise so far?

“The cold wind and snow off the lake shock me every winter…”

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

“I think my 8-year-old self would be totally shocked and in disbelief. For starters, I never wanted to study abroad while I was growing up. I always said I would stay home and do online school. Second, I never wanted to learn Spanish. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Paris and wanted to learn French. I also used to think I was horrible with kids. Now, I want to spend my life serving them. There have been so many events in my life that have shaped and changed me. Looking back at the last three years, I am amazed. God has been good, and I am excited to see what he has for me ahead.”

Advice for other students considering your major

“Just a heads up for your last couple years in the major, having a car is actually really key. You need transportation to get to your field placements. I didn’t get a car until my senior year. If you don’t have a car but want to do social work, I’d be happy to tell you how I did it.”


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 …