Jo Dienst

Class Year



Dubuque, Iowa


Psychology, Pre-Health



Throughout her career at Carthage, Jo Dienst has achieved great success in both of her major departments through close relationships with professors and undergraduate research. Jo credits Carthage’s liberal arts education for encouraging her to explore areas of study that she had not originally considered, which eventually led to her choice in psychology and pre-health. “The thing I thought I would never find interesting was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Working with attentive professors, Jo has been able to conduct medical research in the neuroscience lab as a husbandry specialist. Her professors, specifically Dr. Ingrid Tiegel and Dr. David Brownholland, have also aided with future course and career planning.

Some of Jo’s favorite memories at Carthage have come out of her participation in residence life. Now a senior resident assistant, Jo has been able to stay involved in the student community on campus while also improving her leadership skills.

Reflecting on her own surprise in finding an interest in her majors, Jo advises incoming students to “keep an open mind.” “Give yourself time to find what you’re passionate about.”

Career goal

“My goal is to become a consultation-liaison psychiatrist. Preferably, I will be working in an inpatient hospital setting focusing on the mental health of patients with comorbid medical conditions.”

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

Dr. Ingrid Tiegel of the Psychology Department has seriously shaped my interests. Her class, Child Psychopathology, helped me to realize that psychiatry was the path I wanted to take. Dr. David Brownholland of the Chemistry Department and Pre-Health Program willingly sat down with me and wrote out a schedule for every class I needed to take in order to finish the Pre-Health requirements in time for graduation. He has been a really big help in getting me on the right track for my future.”

Favorite class

“My favorite Carthage course has actually been my Senior Thesis. Thesis is a wonderful way to learn not only an interesting area of study, but it forces you to draw connections between what you’re learning and what you want to do with your degree. My thesis is a seminar class within the psychology major focusing primarily on human attachment. A large part of writing your senior thesis is asking yourself, “What was the point of my college career? What’s next?” It’s a really eye-opening experience.”

Campus involvement

“I’m involved in Psi Chi, the psychology honors fraternity, as well as the Residence Life Council on campus. I work as a senior resident assistant, so I’m heavily involved in residential life on campus.”

Toughest class

“The hardest course I’ve had at Carthage has been Organic Chemistry. That isn’t to say I disliked the course! Quite the contrary, in fact. This was definitely a runner-up in my favorite courses I’ve taken because it has really interesting course material that integrates problem-solving into the curriculum. This course was challenging for me as it forced me to learn to be adaptive in learning. It was a good experience overall, though.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“This is my second year working in residence life. Last year I was a resident assistant in Oaks three, and this year I am the senior resident assistant for Oaks one to three. Residence life has been a really great way for me to get to know people, as well as develop as a leader. I get to help build off of the great community on campus that drew me here in the first place. I also work as a husbandry specialist in the neuroscience laboratory. It’s been an amazing experience. Getting to help out with medical research has been immensely fascinating to the point where it doesn’t feel like work.”


“I received the Presidential Lentz Scholarship prior to attending Carthage. This scholarship is the reason why I was able to attend. It’s very humbling to be granted such a substantial award.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“One of my favorite memories happened this year during residence life training. After we’d finished our sessions, we all piled into vans and went down to a ropes course in Lake Geneva where we all proceeded to bond with our staff. It was particularly bittersweet this year since it’s my last year in residence life, but it’s such a fun and important experience!”

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite place on campus is the bike trail that stretches out and continues into downtown Kenosha. It’s always refreshing to treat yourself to a nice walk following a particularly productive homework session.”

Biggest surprise so far

“I think my biggest surprise was capability. I remember being terrified of the prospect of college, thinking it was going to be vastly difficult. While there have been classes that have challenged me, there are so many resources available for students to access. The professors here are also much less intimidating than they seemed prior to coming to school.”

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

“Pursuing medicine had crossed my mind when I was younger, but I never really put much thought into it. I’d have never thought that 12 years later I’d be working in a research laboratory and planning on going to medical school.”

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

“Psychology is such a fascinating science because of how personal it is. Not only do you learn about research methods, but classes are designed to specialize in every major area of the field to facilitate experiences with the predominant perspectives. The emphasis placed on individuals and how to consider what influences a person’s psyche has not only piqued my interest, but is actively helping me to become a good doctor in the future.”

“Don’t rule anything out. The benefit of having a liberal arts education is that you get to dip your toes into any area of study you’d like to. In fact, exploration is encouraged here. I tried to box myself into a certain area of study and found that the thing I thought I would never find interesting was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Keep an open mind, and give yourself time to find what you’re passionate about.”

Why Carthage?

“I really enjoyed the small class sizes as well as the tight-knit community on such a small campus. The lake view is also a perk!”