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Political Science

Student Voices

  • Samuel Croak '22

Samuel Croak ’22

Hometown

Crete, Illinois

Major(s)

Political Science and Economics

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite spot on campus is the Hedberg Library. In addition to Einstein Bros. Bagels (in the library) being one of my favorite places to eat breakfast/lunch on busy weekends, the study areas provide me with the quiet ambiance and suitable environment I need to focus on huge assignments and extensive readings.”

Career goal

“I plan on going to law school to study corporate/business law. I hope to some day become a legal advisor to a business within a field I may become drawn to once I begin my legal studies.”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

“I have formed many cordial relationships with professors both inside and outside my two departments of study. Moreover, I always feel like I can have a friendly and honest conversation with any professor I meet. The campus itself provides many opportunities to meet with faculty, both inside and outside of class.

“One professor that has been particularly helpful in advancing my studies and with whom I have continued to collaborate on many different projects is Professor Brent McClintock of the Economics Department. Thanks to him, I have been able to carve out that aforementioned niche by meaningfully combining my two areas of study in such a way that I am in a much better position to write a senior thesis for both my political science major and economics major, and to enter law school.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class to date is Constitutional Law I with Professor Thomas Powers. It was the first law class I ever took, and it was there that I found out just how suited I was to become a lawyer. Not only was I introduced to the process of reading and deciphering case law and court opinions, but I was also introduced to certain legal doctrines that continue to interest me to this day. One such example would be the Interstate Commerce Clause, which would become the basis for future research I have conducted with Prof. McClintock and which I plan to include an analysis of within the drafting of my senior theses.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class so far is Introduction to Comparative Politics with Professor Jeffery Roberg. Not only did the class require extensive reading and class participation (both in discussion and student presentations), but it also required me to write every week on a discussion board about an item in the news that related to the field of comparative politics. As someone who did not actively keep up with the news until that point and who had just a cursory knowledge about political science (as I was just a freshman at the time), writing authoritatively on such subjects proved challenging for a person with perfectionist tendencies like myself.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“As I have stated before, I have collaborated with Prof. McClintock as an Economics Fellow on multiple different occasions. I even did a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) project with him entitled “The Interstate Commerce Clause and the Economic Effects of Racial Discrimination.” I studied the negative economic effects that racial discrimination, particularly in the denial of African Americans the right to use public accommodations, has had on U.S. society.

“I also researched how Congress’ growing power of the Interstate Commerce Clause allowed it to ban such discrimination in public accommodations in its passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the case of Heart of Atlanta Motel versus the United States. I gave my presentation on my findings in the fall 2020 semester. Overall, I am proud of what I was able to accomplish over that summer, and I hope it will be a useful stepping stone in my future studies and career.”

Scholarships

“I received the Eric Olson & Anna Olson-Thom Scholarship from the Political Science Department. Not only am I happy to receive this scholarship so that I may lessen the financial burden of college, but I also am extremely proud that my academic efforts within that department have been personally recognized by both my professors and the college itself.”

Campus involvement

“I am currently involved with the Carthage Mock Trial Team. I was planning on joining the team for at least a year at some point during my time at Carthage to experience what it has to offer, boost my academic credentials, and better myself as a student and public speaker. I’m hoping I can become a valuable and integral team member so that we may be able to make it to the American Mock Trial Association’s (AMTA) Opening Round Championship Series.

“I was also a part of the Carthage Pep Band during my freshman and sophomore year. As someone who has developed a deep appreciation for music, it has been cathartic being able to pursue it as a fun hobby rather than a profession while being compensated for the time I put into it. I plan to rejoin the Pep Band for my senior year.

“Lastly, I have been involved in a number of different academic organizations, such as Alpha Lamda Delta, the National Society for Leadership (NSLS), and most notably the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Club. The latter has been a great resource for becoming more integrated with the Pre-Law program here at Carthage, and I hope to become more involved in the future.”

Biggest surprise so far

“The biggest surprise during my college life so far has been how involved everything is on campus. Even as someone who was a straight-A student in high school, I feel I was unprepared for just how much effort was required for me to maintain that academic standard going into freshman year. However, due to the supportive nature of the faculty at Carthage and the many academic resources available, I was able to meet the challenges set before me and come out the other end as a better student.”

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

“I think my 8-year-old self would be pleasantly surprised that my older self was able to derive enjoyment from academic studies while never really losing the things that I was passionate about back then, like playing video games and such. I have added new interests without ever really dropping old ones, and while my current career path may not always seem enticing to the impressionable and easily distracted kid that I probably was, my current self is at least somewhat satisfied with where I ended up.”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“Both political science and economics are remarkably interesting fields of study in their own right but, due to the vastness and all-encompassing nature of the fields, one is able to carve out a niche no matter what one’s own personal interests or hobbies are. I, for example, have taken to study topics in the so-called “Legal and Economic Nexus,” where the framework of the U.S. judiciary and the legal decisions it makes are examined through the lens of economics. Economics in particular is, I believe, much more expansive in scope than a prospective student may first assume. Economics has something to say about environmentalism, the actions of political actors (public choice theory), health care systems, and nearly anything else you might think of. It is a great field to gain insight into the root of human nature, albeit as imperfect as any other ideological perspective or worldview.”

  • 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 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 $22,000 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 …

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