Sean Hughes

Class Year



Burbank, Illinois





From a young age, Sean Hughes has had a strong interest for science and inquisition. Now a biology major, Sean hopes to expand his passions into a career in medical science with the help of Carthage’s small class sizes and invested professors.

Through his studies, Sean has been able to participate in Carthage’s Celebration of Scholars and the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research, as well as many other clubs and organizations.

Sean credits Carthage’s supportive faculty and staff, specifically Dr. Paul Martino and Dr. Daniel Choffnes, for inspiring him to work hard and continue towards his full potential in the field. “Your professors really are your friends, they all want you to do amazing things.”

“The two most important qualities this major has given me, however, are pride in all that I do and an ever-present level of respect for the complexities of all aspects of life. I have yet to experience anything more rewarding than being able to look back on how much I’ve grown.”

Sean Hughes, ’19

Career goal

“After graduation, I plan to attend medical school in order to fulfill my ultimate goal of becoming a doctor. I’m not sure what I’d like to specialize in, although I’ve been interested in the idea of general surgery, internal medicine, or emergency medicine.”

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

Dr. Paul Martino has played a monumental role in my time here at Carthage. He exudes confidence and compassion. Dr. Martino has been my role model to whom I look to imitate in how I approach others. His ability to empathize with everyone he comes across is something I aspire to have as a physician. On top of being an all around great guy, Dr. Martino has an insatiable hunger for knowledge. He’s constantly growing intellectually in an effort to become an even better professor than he already is. Through his student-first philosophy, he serves to be a well of knowledge and advice for all. Dr. Martino is the best example of what makes Carthage such an amazing institution.”

Dr. Daniel Choffnes has had one of the most impactful roles in my growth as a student as well as a person. Through his patient and thoughtful approach to students inside and outside of the classroom, I have learned how to handle anything that life may throw at me. He’s never too busy to help others nor does he ever shy away from a challenge. He constantly asks the question, “why?” inspiring others to be fully sure of themselves and build confidence. Through my countless conversations with Dr. Choffnes, I can say that an analytical mindset and curiosity for all things are two tools he has equipped me with that I will utilize for the rest of my life.”

Favorite class

“Genetics has been my favorite class. I acquired so much knowledge during that semester and it taught me amazing study habits. It honestly was so interesting to learn about the biological development of life and how interdependent all organisms are upon one another.”

Campus involvement

“Outside of the classroom, I have been able to be a part of the men’s soccer team and various organizations: The honors biology club TriBeta, the Pre-Health Club, the leadership fraternity Omicron Delta Kappa, and Carthage World Relief.”

Toughest class

“Organic Chemistry is the most challenging class I’ve taken here. It is such an awkward class in that it forces you to think about hard concepts in an abstract way. It was impossible to study for this class the same way I studied for others.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“I have been able to participate in two separate research projects, both of which I was given the opportunity to present at the annual Celebration of Scholars and the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research. Outside of research, Carthage has given me the opportunities to sit in on colloquiums presented by some of the brightest minds in science, perform at various music events, and continue my soccer career at the collegiate level.”


“Receiving the Carthage Academic Honors Scholarship is the sole reason my attendance here is affordable. I am forever grateful for having received it. Without this aid, I would have missed out on the most influential four years of my life.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“The last day of pre-season for soccer freshman year is one of my favorite memories from my time here at Carthage. After two grueling weeks of practice and conditioning, I had gotten so close with that group of guys who’ve now become some of my best friends. My other favorite memory from Carthage is of homecoming sophomore year. There was so much going on around campus. My friends and I spent the entire day outside at the football game, the beach, and we met so many new people.”

Favorite spot on campus

“My go-to spot on campus is by the rocks behind the Todd Wehr Center. Sitting by the water at anytime of the day is so peaceful and it’s the best break to a busy day. Plus, the sunrises are pretty sweet.”

Biggest surprise so far

“I found the amount of people you can get to know in such a short period to be one of the most surprising things. It’s almost impossible to walk down campus drive or go to the student union without seeing a familiar face.”

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

“My 8-year-old self would’ve never imagined that I’d attend medical school one day. I’ve always been very inquisitive and interested in science but I don’t think I ever saw myself pursuing that interest to this extent at 8. I’m sure he’d be proud as well as shocked at what I have accomplished and aspire to achieve.”

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

“Start with your right foot forward. If you have an idea of what you want to do with your biology degree, do your research early and prepare properly by planning ahead. Although it’s hard, it is what you make it and you can make it into whatever you want it to be. Also, be nosy and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your professors really are your friends, they all want you to do amazing things.”

Why Carthage?

“From preschool through high school, I’ve attended private schools. I believe my growth, both intellectually and personally, is the direct result of the academic environments I had developed in. Smaller class sizes, professors that truly care about student development inside and outside of the classroom, a student body that is more of a family than anything, and historically prestigious programs for every field of study were the main factors that ultimately led to my decision in choosing Carthage. Also, who doesn’t love the lake?”