- Carthage College
Stephanie Finnvik was not always sure what she wanted to major in. With interests in Spanish, business and chemistry, she didn’t settle down into her physics major until the end of her sophomore year. “I have so many different interests, but going to Carthage, I knew that I would have the opportunity to try each before I decided what I really wanted to do,” Stephanie said.
At first, she didn’t even consider majoring in physics because it was a subject she hated in high school. “I decided to major in physics my second year at Carthage after taking a physics class with Prof. Crosby and learning about the Microgravity Team,” which has traveled to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to conduct research aboard the Weightless Wonder.
Stephanie is participating in Carthage’s dual-degree Engineering program. She will get her physics degree from Carthage and then spend two years at the University of Minnesota to get an Aerospace Engineering degree.
Between her physics and Spanish majors, Stephanie has the best of both worlds.
“One of the biggest strengths of the Physics Department is that you have the opportunity to get to know each of the professors personally. I can go up to any one of them and have a conversation or ask for help,” Stephanie said. As far as the Spanish Department, “There are tons of resources available and all the professors are more than willing to answer your questions. All the classes are small, too, so you have plenty of opportunity to practice your speaking skills, which is important for any language.”
Stephanie can’t get enough of the programs and opportunities Carthage has to offer. “I recently got to travel to Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona to observe and take images with the 0.9 meter telescope with Professor Arion,” Stephanie said. “It was really cool because we got to learn how the telescope runs and we were in complete control of its operation while there.”
Stephanie also had the opportunity to fly NASA’s zero-gravity plane and help Professor Zorn’s meteorology classes with a high altitude balloon launch. In summer 2010, she worked at the Milwaukee School of Engineering to design, fabricate, fly and recover a high altitude balloon payload to analyze mercury concentration that was in the air. “The balloon reached approximately 90,000 feet,” Stephanie said. “I hope to help other classes in the future and do many more launches soon.”
Stephanie’s activities don’t stop there. She is also involved in Women’s Lacrosse, Students in Free Enterprise, the Microgravity Team, Society of Physics Students, Residence Life Council, Juggling Club, Alpha Chi Omega, and Habitat for Humanity.
In her immediate future, Stephanie would like to get her private pilot’s license. “In the long run, I would like to be doing research in space science, hopefully working for NASA at Johnson Space Center in Texas,” she said.
“I hope to be working for NASA or do some sort of space science research.”
“Professor Crosby. He has always been supportive of all the crazy ideas myself and the other physics students come up with, and he always encourages us to do our best.”
“My favorite Spanish class so far was the Spanish Speaking World: Culture and Intellectual Life. The professor, Maribel Morales, is from Spain so we were able to focus on Spain. My favorite physics class is Optics with Professor Arion. It can be difficult at times, but we get to do a lot of cool demonstrations — some that students build themselves.”
“My toughest class was Intro to International Relations with Prof. Roberg. It was a little bit out of my element, but the worst when when we had to prepare for a debate on a give topic. He wouldn’t tell us if we were for or against it until it was our turn to present our side. I was debating against the class, and after about 10 minutes into my speech, I realized that I had been debating for the wrong side. After Prof. Roberg informed me that I was, I quickly tried to cover over my comments and ended up suffering the rest of the semester with that embarrassing event as a freshman.”
Favorite moments at Carthage
“Meeting people and hanging out with the friends that I’ve made. Flying on the Weightless Wonder plane is by far my favorite experience. There’s nothing like the feeling of zero and reduced gravity.”
Biggest surprise so far?
“How may times I can change my mind! I never would have thought I would be doing what I am right now when I was just starting college.”
Advice for other students considering your major
“Math, math, math. I suggest that you get as much math practice as you can, because it will be helpful.”