Ryen Cunningham

Class Year

’20

Hometown

Zion, Illinois

Major(s)

Great Ideas

Minor(s)

Communication, Spanish

“In high school, I was not very social or concerned with making friends. In college, however, there are so many opportunities to get to know other amazing people and professors that it is impossible for me to be as introverted as I used to.”

Ryen Cunningham, ’20

Career goal

“I hope to work at an embassy or consulate as a diplomat or a foreign service officer.”

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

Professor Ben DeSmidt and Professor Eric Pullin are two professors that have provided an amazing opportunity with the Humanities Citizenship Initiative program, which runs every summer. My role in this program has helped me gain teaching experience and allowed me to apply what I have learned in my studies as a great ideas major.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class has been Astronomy. Science is not my strongest area of study, but this class has awakened a passion, interest, and respect that I never thought was possible.”

Campus involvement

“I am currently in Tea Club. In my four years, I have participated in or have been an active member of DRAFT, Chinese Club, Alpha Mu Gamma, Black Student Union, and United Women of Color. I also used to be a resident assistant in Tarble Hall.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class has been my Foundations of Natural Science course. It is an amazing class with a diverse catalog of readings. The topics are challenging, yet I was still motivated to keep reading and learning.”

Internships or on-campus employment

“I was a post-production intern for Professor Nicholas Pilarski. I did marketing for some of his upcoming projects, and I also did some post-production cleanup for his virtual reality documentary, ‘Fireflies.’”

Opportunities at Carthage

“For J-Term, I have gone to Guatemala twice with Professor Edward Montanaro. I recently participated in the Diversity Leadership Summit, where I presented ‘Traveling While Black.’”

Scholarships

“I have received several grants and the Carthage Academic Honors scholarship.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“All of my favorite Carthage memories have to do with meeting my best friends. During my time here,I have met many great people who I will treasure and cherish forever.”

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite spot on campus is the HF Gallery of Art. I have been working there as a Gallery Attendant for two years now, and it is the most peaceful and interesting spot on campus. It is quiet and perfect for sitting and studying while also being a space to engage with the local contemporary artists that have their pieces displayed there.”

Biggest surprise so far

“My biggest surprise so far has been the amount of amazing people that I have encountered. In high school, I was not very social or concerned with making friends. In college, however, there are so many opportunities to get to know other amazing people and professors that it is impossible for me to be as introverted as I used to.”

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

“8-year-old Ryen would be proud but also wouldn’t know what I was saying half of the time since half of my thoughts are now in Spanish.”

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

“Follow your phrēn.”

Why Carthage?

“I chose Carthage because it was the most affordable college, and it was close to home.”