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Student Voices

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Mikaley Osley ‘14


Aurora, Colo.


Theatre, English

Favorite spot on campus

“Echo point. The place by the Lincoln statue where you stand on the 1847 plaque and speak, hearing the echo when no one else can.”

Mikaley Osley was “bit by the theater bug” when she was eight years old and saw a production of “The Sound of Music.” The girl playing Gretel was the same age and immediately Mikaley wanted to be on stage. After the play, Mikaley got an audition at a local theatre.

“I walked up on stage, recited my poem monotonously, and walked right off,” Mikaley said. “Needless to say, I didn’t get a role. However, I was told there were acting classes I could take.”

The classes helped Mikaley find a place for her loud voice and molded her personality. In the summer before seventh grade, she was cast as Binky Ruddich in “Revenge of the Space Pandas.”

“I was an eleven-year-old girl, playing a twelve-year-old boy genius,” she said. “It was a blast. I was officially hooked.”

When Mikaley was sixteen, she got to experience what theatre was like from a new perspective when her full-length play, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” was produced at The Shadow Theater in Denver.

“Despite all I knew about theater, there was—and still is—no greater feeling than hearing my words, characters, and story being played out on the stage,” Mikaley said. “I discovered I could move people in ways I’d never dreamed, making them laugh, cry, or gasp. It was then I knew I wanted to write plays for the rest of my life.”

Mikaley chose to attend Carthage because it is where she felt the most comfortable. “When I was looking for a college, I didn’t want to work my way through an established conservatory with rules like seniority and a general sense of close-mindedness,” she said. “Instead, I wanted to grow with the program itself, building it for future generations.”

Over the course of two-and-a-half years, Mikaley has managed three shows and is currently working on a fourth. She has also written two one-act plays that were nominated at The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, received a SURE grant to write a full-length play and has worked with many prestigious artists.

“It’s more than I ever could have hoped for and my journey at Carthage surprises me every day,” she said. “It makes me excited to continue discovering myself as an artist and as a person.”

Favorite professor

Prof. Neil Scharnick. I remember when I had made a connection from two plays I was reading in two different classes—one of which he was teaching—and I ran into his office, during a 10-minute break between classes, geeking out about this discovery I’d made. He listened to me, discussed it with me, and then recommended another play to read. Ten minutes were up and we continued about our day. He encourages learning outside the classroom and cares about what you have to say, even if it’s only for a short blip between classes.”

Favorite class

“Acting and Directing One-Acts. It was a new class that I dropped into on a whim and it was the best decision I made my first semester. It solidified my dream of being a playwright and opened so many doors for me because we performed one of my one-acts. That very same one-act then went on to be nominated for The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Without that class, I would not have had the opportunities or the friends I have now. We bonded while trying to create a new class and it wiped my worries away about being in a new place and starting a new life.”

Toughest class

“Play Production III: Stage Lighting. I went into that class knowing close to nothing about lighting design. I knew how to hang a light, but that was about it. I came out having successfully designed an entire song, which gave me the confidence to pursue lighting; something I had no interest in previously. Getting to that point was no easy task, there were times I had no clue what I was doing, but I was reminded how success comes from hard work, practice, and patience.”

Favorite moments at Carthage

“I was playing music before the ‘Biloxi Blues’ opening and ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’ from ‘Mulan’ came on and every single cast and crew member jumped onstage and belted out all the words.”

Biggest surprise so far?

“Receiving the SURE grant to adapt a novel into a play. It was the first time a theatre student had been given that kind of a grant and I was amazed and honored. Through this grant, I was able to get a taste of my dream as a junior in college; to be a working playwright.”

Advice for other students considering your major

“Don’t be afraid to ask. If you want to try something new, then talk to a professor about it. They are more than willing to help students create new opportunities, but you have to work for it. If you want it, you can get it. Just ask.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2018), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • 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 wins, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 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. 95% 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. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience 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 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 our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. 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,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. 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 the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, 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 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. 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.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • 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 No. 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 …