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  • Cecil Jennings '81

Cecil Jennings ’81

Class Year



Biology, Natural Science, and Conservation

Current home

Athens, Ga.

Current position

Research Biologist/Adjunct Professor

Cecil Jennings came to Carthage from the Virgin Islands and graduated in 1981 with degrees in biology, natural science, and conservation. He was an active member of the football team and received a Carthage Activity Grant for his participation in the sport. 

In his current position as a Unit Leader for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Cecil provides oversight for daily operations as well as direction for other federal scientists. He works in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to develop research and training programs in response to the U.S. Geological Survey. 

Cecil’s main area of research is fish, and he helps direct research related to fish population ecology, biology, and management. Cecil also serves as a major advisor to Ph.D.- and M.S.–level students and teaches graduate-level, fishery-related courses at the University of Georgia.

While initially a physical education major, Cecil credits the natural resources professors at Carthage for introducing him to the Biology, Natural Science, and Conservation Departments at Carthage, and for their guidance and help during and after graduation.

See Cecil Jenning’s #MyJobInSixPics feature!


What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“Contributing to the conservation of our natural resources (especially fishery resources), including training the next generation of conservation scientists. I also enjoy the variety of tasks associated with my job. From designing and conducting research projects/experiments, mentoring graduate students and technical staff, teaching, giving presentations at scientific conferences, writing project reports, and scientific articles. There is a fair amount of travel to places mundane, interesting, and exotic, and I enjoy that as well.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“I was really challenged (professionally and personally) at Carthage. Learning to rise to any challenge has served me well. I’m from the Caribbean originally, so I experienced culture shock on many levels. The professors in the Biology Department were demanding but nurturing. They prepared me well for graduate training, which led to my career as a research scientist.”

Why did you choose Carthage?

“Carthage offered me the opportunity to play college football and I jumped at it. I figured the academics would be first-rate, but the opportunity to play football sealed the deal for me.”

What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?

“Because of Carthage, I was able to attend graduate school at Mississippi State University. One of my professors at MSU also was a Carthage alum who had the same undergrad mentor as I did. Networking brought us together. Certainly, Carthage’s academic preparation was paramount, but that, coupled with learning the value of networking, provided many other possibilities that led to a successful and rewarding career.”

How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?

“I believe the liberal arts education made me a more rounded student than some of the graduate school peers who attended specialized colleges. Most were versed in discipline-specific knowledge, but I was comfortable discussing history, religion, sociology, and so on. I attribute this well-rounded education to the diversity of the non-major required courses necessary to complete a Carthage degree requirement.”

What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?

“Professors Evelyn Crump, Walter Suter, Herman Ogren, and Ralf Tiefel were the most influential to me. They constituted the biology faculty at the time, and I had classes with each. I maintained a life-long friendship with Profs. Crump and Suter, and we corresponded regularly. They would offer encouragement and a kick in the pants as needed. I appreciated that.”

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

Carthage Activity Grant (Football)

Tips for current Carthage students:

“Get outside your comfort zone. You are more adaptable than you realize. Also, keep an open mind. Sometimes opportunities arise that we have not considered, and they can lead to wonderful things. For example, I was accepted to Carthage as a physical education major because I wanted to be a football coach, but a chance encounter with the natural resource professor took me down a very different path than the one I imagined initially.”

Favorite Carthage memories:

“I have fond memories of ‘borrowing’ lunchroom trays to slide down the hill on Alford Park Drive across from campus right after big snowstorms, of calling Carl’s Pizza or Pizza Tech for late-night pizza and learning about cultural differences between my native Virgin Islands and other places where students were from. The high expectations of Carthage professors prepared me well for working and excelling in challenging work environments.”

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

“They have led to a very successful career built on collaborative research. I learned many things at Carthage, both inside and outside the classroom. They prepared me well for creating my comfort zone and being happy with my life and work, regardless of where I find myself.’

  • 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.

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    • 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. 

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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 …