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Geospatial Science

Student Voices

  • Kathleen Cochran '21

Kathleen Cochran ’21


Rochester, Illinois


Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Geoscience


Data Science

Favorite spot on campus

“There are a lot of beautiful places on campus, but I think my favorite place is the tree area along the lake behind The Oaks Residential Village. When it is nice outside, my friends and I like to hang our hammocks up on the trees and relax while listening to the waves of Lake Michigan.

Career goal

“Following my graduation, I hope to either find a job using geographic information science (GIS) and my geoscience knowledge to solve environmental issues or go to graduate school to get my master’s degree in a geoscience related field.”

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

“Each and every single member of the Geoscience Department has helped push me in the right direction for my future career. I am able to rely on them for a lot, such as helping me with my coursework, research, plans for the future, and more. Without them, I know for a fact that I would not have had such a successful college experience.”

Favorite class

“If I had to pick a top three favorite classes, I would definitely say my study abroad class in Nicaragua is one of them because of the uniqueness of the course as well as its relevance to what I want to do in my future career. Another one of my favorite courses was the Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) class I completed with Professor Matthew Zorn. We got to fly drones around campus capturing videos and pictures to use for data analysis. Another one of my favorite classes was the Aquatic Ecology and Hydrology symposium I took my sophomore year. As a class, we went on several field trips in the Kenosha and Milwaukee area to analyze various ecology- and hydrology-related things. We put waiters on and stood in several rivers to collect samples of aquatic life, spent the afternoon on a research boat in Milwaukee, and more.”

Toughest class

“The toughest class I have taken was Computer Science I and II. I took the two classes my freshman year with very little background in the subject, so it was defiantly a challenge. Once I made it through those courses, I was convinced I would never do anything coding- or data science-related again. I guess I was wrong as I now have a minor in data science.”

Internships or on-campus employment

“I completed an internship with Northwater Consulting, a small environmental firm based out of Springfield, Ill. At Northwater, I used Esri’s GIS software to develop maps for various environmental tasks, including watershed digitizing, pollutant monitoring, etc. I also had the privilege of being a Geoscience Department fellow this past semester, in which I tutored the GIS introductory class at Carthage.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“In Jan. 2020, I was lucky enough to take part in the Nicaragua J-term trip. This experience was life changing for many reasons. Not only did I get to hike to the top of an active volcano, but I got to meet people and experience Nicaraguan culture first hand while also solving clean water issues on the island of Ometepe. This unique opportunity is something I truly don’t believe I would’ve gotten to experience at another school, and I am so thankful to have had this chance.

“Another important opportunity I have had at Carthage was being able to work on the development of a GPS-enabled mobile app. A few of my peers and I were able to design and develop a mobile app in our Applied Projects class for GIS that takes users on a virtual nature tour of campus. With the help of Professor Wenjie Sun and many others, we were able to upload the app to the Google and Apple app stores and present our project at several undergraduate symposiums/forums.”


“I have been a recipient of two geoscience scholarships: the Edith J. and William H. Bullamore Geoscience Scholarship and the R. William Miller Scholarship.”

Campus involvement

“One of my favorite extracurricular activities is my role on the women’s soccer team. Joining this team was one of the best decisions I made as it helped me find some of my best friends. From an academic standpoint, I am involved in quite a few clubs at Carthage, including Alpha Lambda Delta, National Society of Leadership and Success, Carthage Untied to Rescue Earth, and more. I am also the president of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the Geography Honors Society.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“Carthage has brought me endless memories and fun times. One of my favorite memories here was during my freshman year when our soccer team had an away game at Kalamazoo. In the middle of the game, a tornado warning was issued, and we all had to go into the locker room to wait the storm out. During the break, our entire team had a dance party to try and stay energized for when we went back out to play. It worked, and we ended up winning the game!

“Another one of my favorite memories was climbing on all fours up the side of an active volcano while on my J-term trip to Nicaragua. It was one of the most challenging hikes I’ve been on, but there is nothing that can compare to that feeling of being on the top and looking out to see the the entire island of Ometepe below. I will hold that memory with me forever.”

Biggest surprise so far

“The biggest surprise has been the people. I have met so many amazing, hilarious, kind-hearted people at this school who have had such an unexpected but positive impact on my life. I am so thankful for everyone that has come into my life in the last few years, and I have Carthage to thank for that.”

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

“I am sure that younger me would be thrilled to know that I have found and dedicated myself to a field that I am passionate about. I have always had a love for science and geography since I was young, so I’m sure that she’d be proud to know that I have found a way to merge my two favorite subjects into a super cool career path.”

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

“GIS is defiantly one of the lesser known majors at Carthage, but it is one of the best. GIS is being used in all sorts of fields for a variety of analytic tasks. It is used in marketing, environmental science, business, geoscience, and more. This field can take you in so many directions, which is why I think more students should consider the major. On top of this, the geoscience faculty is amazing. They are all supportive, understanding, and very helpful both in the classroom and when planning for life after college.”

  • 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.

    • Beyond the campus boundaries, dinosaur fossils are prepared at the Carthage Institute of Paleontolgoy in Kenosha. A lengthy pterodactyl flight away, Finca Esperanza serves as a base camp for J-Term medical and water quality missions to Nicaragua. 

    • 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 $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 …