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International Political Economy


  • Ashley Mikkola '14

Ashley Mikkola ’14

Class Year



International Political Economy



Current home

Godalming, Surrey, United Kingdom

Current position

Full-stack Software Developer at Aceleron Energy

Ashley Mikkola ’14 is a full-stack software developer at Aceleron Energy — an award-winning clean technology company. She spends her days making software that helps monitor the performance of battery cells and aids in ensuring that the batteries are properly maintained.

Ms. Mikkola believes that her education at Carthage provided her with the skills needed to adapt to the changing workforce.

“My liberal arts education taught me that studying is more about learning how to learn, learning how to approach the unfamiliar, and learning out how to apply yourself in a semi-structured hierarchical environment.”

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“I’ve enjoyed the ability to carve my own path. I worked first in the translation and internationalization industry, in which I experienced the intricacies in the lexical patterns of applied human language. As neural machine translation continued to gain popularity in the industry, I decided to pursue it further. I undertook some field research and additional training in programming languages to prepare for this. In the end, I came to realize that one can draw many parallels between natural and machine languages. These days, I work full time as a full-stack software developer, but who knows what the future has in store.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“The requirements for a diverse course load at Carthage has given me confidence to try things outside of my comfort zone. There are some brilliant minds behind the Carthage curriculum. I remember being pleasantly surprised by the interesting things I learned, which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience if I only focused on courses within my specialism.”

Why did you choose Carthage?

“Carthage was a reasonable distance away from my parents, and it checked their box for being a religious institution. I also liked the fact that I could study German and that the College was relatively internationally focussed for such a small institution in the Midwest.”

What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?

“I spent a lot of time abroad in Europe during my undergrad college career, which helped me familiarize myself with the visa requirements and applications that led to my successfully emigration.”

How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?

“My liberal arts education taught me that studying is more about learning how to learn, learning how to approach the unfamiliar, and learning out how to apply yourself in a semi-structured hierarchical environment. All of these skills helped me adapt to the challenges I faced as part of the varied and global modern workforce.”

Were you an award recipient? If so, tell us about the awards you received and what they meant to you.

“I was the recipient of three endowed scholarships: the Lukas Family Scholarship, the Thomas W. Lentz Scholarship, and the John H. and Mary L. (Hall) Meiss and Olive C. (Meiss) Padre Scholarship.”

Tips for current Carthage students:

“Don’t be afraid to take a course that sounds a little bit crazy, especially if it can fulfill some of your liberal arts requirements. For example, if you can take a yoga course that counts as both a religion credit and an exercise and sport science credit, do not hesitate to enroll just because you’re afraid the professor will be disappointed because you can’t touch your toes.”

Favorite Carthage memories:

“Some of my best Carthage memories were centered around the community of the College. The shape of the campus made it easy to see all my friends, classmates, and acquaintances. I was able to really strengthen my connections and relationships with all kinds of different people.”

What role have the values in Carthage's mission, "Seeking Truth, Building Strength, Inspiring Service — Together" played in your life?

“In reference to seeking truth, my time at Carthage involved scouring the Hedberg Library’s catalogue of resources to find materials and information for my essays. Learning how to find proper resources helped me become conscientious when searching for the source of a claim in news articles or when collecting multiple perspectives on a specific event or result.

“When it comes to building strength, the financial, social, and academic struggles I experienced allowed me to hone my independent problem-solving skills. These skills have been a cornerstone in helping me realize my dreams and successfully navigate the unprecedented challenges of the global social, economic, and political landscape that young adults are being faced with in the modern era.

“In terms of inspiring service, I believe that the community and collaborative environment of Carthage has contributed to my altruistic beliefs. It is these beliefs that ultimately led me to donate one of my kidneys to a stranger in need. Being exposed to a diverse and wide range of people during my time at Carthage was instrumental in helping foster a great deal of tolerance and fellow feeling in me, which I hope I can use to help shape the world for the better.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), 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 The Aspire Center.

    • 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’s J-Term offers IPE students opportunities to study business culture in other countries. Recent J-Term study tours have been led by economics, finance, political science, and marketing faculty to such destinations as Sweden, Cuba, Argentina, southern Africa, and Hong Kong.

    • Carthage IPE graduates are working around the globe as computer analysts, financial advisors, investment brokers, international business analysts, mutual fund specialists, and for government and nonprofit organizations. 

    • Popular with IPE students, the student organization Enactus provides students with entrepreneurial experience through community projects. The group’s name borrows from three words: entrepreneurial, action, and us. Enactus has received regional and national recognition.

    • 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 marketing 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 $25,000 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 Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, 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 in the Top 5 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 …