Caitlyn Zarzar graduated from Carthage in 2013 with degrees in geography and earth science after transferring from a bigger university in Chicago during her freshman year.
“I wanted small class sizes and to be surrounded by nature so I could focus on my studies versus the hustle and bustle of the city around me.”
Ms. Zarzar works at STEM Theatres where she manages the planetarium, oversees the educational programming, and teaches science to children using unique concepts such as art. For example, she used bubbles with food coloring to create artwork of the surface of the moon to talk about lunar maria and the Apollo missions during an education program.
“Thinking about ways to teach science through art is a part of my everyday life and is a skill that wasn’t developed overnight. Carthage and the liberal arts education helped me develop those skills.”
Ms. Zarzar would like to thank Professor Matthew Zorn, Professor Rob Edsal, Professor Wenjie Sun, Professor Kurt Piepenburg, Professor Jean Quashnock, and Professor Brent Carlson for their support and guidance throughout her education.
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
“Working as an informal science educator has taught me how to relay complex scientific topics to children and adults. I inspire kids to be curious about science, which can oftentimes be scary to them, and continue to explore and ask questions about the world around them. I enjoy hearing the kids I work with repeat small tidbits of science and see the excitement in their faces as they learn something new.”
How did Carthage prepare you?
“I strongly believe that a liberal arts education helps build more well-rounded individuals who can help bridge the gap between arts and science literacy. The Geospatial Science Department also has a group of extremely talented professors who share their excitement for their research and keep the students engaged in their classes to prepare them to do better for the world.”
Why did you choose Carthage?
“I transferred to Carthage after attending a university in Chicago. I wanted small class sizes and to be surrounded by nature so I could focus on my studies versus the hustle and bustle of the city around me. The Geospatial Science Department also provided me with the necessary classes and training to become the geoscientist that I am today.”
What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?
“Carthage set me up for graduate school, which I did not consider right away after college. I took a year off but was still able to apply to graduate school because of my academic history at Carthage. I also am a guest lecturer intermittently with the Geospacial Science Department to help inspire undergraduates about career paths with a geography degree.”
How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?
“I work at an interactive museum of arts, sciences, and exploration. Carthage taught me how to blend concepts, like STEM and the arts, together to create experiences that our visitors remember. A great example of this is using robots to paint pictures to learn basic block coding, or bubbles with food coloring to create artwork of the surface of the moon to talk about lunar maria and the Apollo missions. Thinking about ways to teach science through art is a part of my everyday life and is a skill that wasn’t developed overnight. Carthage and the liberal arts education helped me develop those skills.”
What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?
“All of the geography professors helped mold me into the person I am today. Professor Matthew Zorn taught me that science is fun and exciting and to never stop learning. Professor Rob Edsall taught me how to write scientifically and to research. Professor Wenjie Sun taught me everything I needed to know about geographic information science and remote sensing. Professor Kurt Piepenburg taught me the skills I needed in order to become an adjunct lecturer. Professor Jean Quashnock taught me to ALWAYS remember my units. And Professor Brent Carlson taught me how important physics is in meteorology but also in everyday life.”
Were you an award recipient? If so, tell us about the awards you received and what they meant to you.
“I graduated with honors in geography, Magna Cum Laude, and I was on the Dean’s list. I also received multiple scholarships during my time at Carthage.”
Tips for current Carthage students:
“Network and always be willing to try something new. You never know where the next opportunity will lead you. Use the career center to prepare a cover letter, resume, and cold email. And know that your professors will always be there for you.”
Favorite Carthage memories:
“I was able to go on a J-Term study tour to Nicaragua to help build a new water infrastructure on the island of Ometepe. This experience changed my perspective of how we take clean water for granted and how other countries do not have privileges like we do.”
What role have the values in Carthage's mission, "Seeking Truth, Building Strength, Inspiring Service — Together" played in your life?
“I give back to the community by working for a non-profit and teaching kids of all ages and backgrounds to be inspired by STEM.”