Jennifer John

Class Year

’12

Hometown

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Major(s)

Neuroscience, Biology

Minor(s)

Psychology

Jennifer John ’12, has traveled far to attend Carthage. Originally from Colorado, she’d never heard of Carthage until she started her college search. She concentrated her search on small, liberal arts schools affiliated with the ELCA, and wanted a college that offered a major in neuroscience. After spending only a few hours on campus during a tour, Jennifer knew that Carthage offered the community feel she was looking for.

“Everyone I met was so welcoming,” she said. “I knew that this was where I wanted and needed to be. I knew that I would get the opportunity to work closely with my professors, building great relationships that could help me to achieve my future goals. The Neuroscience Program, with the wonderful opportunities it offered, was the key deciding factor for me.”

A high school biology project was Jennifer’s inspiration to study neuroscience. She chose to research the nervous system and multiple sclerosis.

“I was so fascinated by the nervous system that I told my teacher that if I could only study it, I would,” she said. “He laughed and said that I could. He introduced me to the world of neuroscience. Of course, I have since learned that neuroscience involves much more than just the nervous system, but nevertheless, my dream came true.”

Since coming to Carthage, Jennifer has taken advantage of the experiences that are offered to students in the Neuroscience Program. Although the program is growing, it has not lost its unique undergraduate research and networking opportunities. Jennifer has performed surgeries, conducted behavioral conditioning studies, performed histological analyses, and explored the world of data analysis and presentation.

“Every student in the Neuroscience Program at Carthage receives hands-on experience in the lab, working with the rat colony on numerous research projects in collaboration with other institutions,” she said. “Being a part of this ongoing research has given me a great feeling of accomplishment.”

At the recommendation of a professor, Jennifer also participated in research at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“I was placed in a lab in the physiology department at MCW, where I spent the month conducting research, gaining wonderful professional laboratory experience, and networking,” Jennifer said of her time at the Medical College last January. “Thanks to the wonderful connections I built, my month at MCW ended with an invitation to apply to a competitive summer research program, to which I was accepted.”

In January 2012, Jennifer explored a different world completely. She went to China for a J-Term study tour, and studied Chinese tea culture, traditional medicines, and globalization.

“We will be spending three weeks visiting numerous provinces in South-Eastern China, ending our trip in Shanghai,” she said before leaving. “I am greatly looking forward to this wonderful opportunity. It is sure to be the trip of a lifetime.”

“The Neuroscience Program, with the wonderful opportunities it offered, was the key deciding factor for me.”

Jennifer John, ’12

Career goal

“Right now, my plan after graduation is to work for a few years. My dream position would be as a lab technician or research assistant at a large University. I would like to spend a few years researching before applying to Medical School, with the goal of becoming a Neurologist.”

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

“My favorite professor is Dr. Paul Martino. He is always willing to help and is so invested in making sure his students succeed. He has a passion for teaching that makes each lecture so enjoyable, and he is not afraid to be goofy. I can’t wait to take another class with him.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class has been Neural Mechanisms of Stress with Dr. Penny Seymoure. I have greatly enjoyed the way the class is centered on current stress research in the fields of neuroscience and psychology. The first half of the semester, we focused on learning about the neurobiology of stress mechanisms. The second half of the semester, however, was when it really got fun. We read papers and had class discussions focused on stress research. It was great to see how everything I had learned is actually being applied in the real world.”

Campus involvement

“I am a goalie on the women’s lacrosse team, and was named the Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2010. I am also a member of Gamma Nu Sigma neuroscience club, and Tri-Beta honors biology fraternity.”

Toughest class

“The toughest class I’ve taken at Carthage was definitely French. I took French in high school and tested into the second intermediate semester. It was definitely a struggle for me, as I don’t really have a head for languages. While I much prefer science classes, I have greatly appreciated the broad education Carthage has given me. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to take many classes outside of my majors.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“Some of my fondest memories of Carthage are actually just the simple bonuses of going to a smaller school. I love being able to walk down Campus Drive and recognize most of the faces I pass. I have enjoyed getting to know my professors, and I love that they can see me as more than just a name or number. They know where I spent my summer researching, and that my brother just got married. They know when my lacrosse team is playing, and some of them may even attend the games. If I have had a bad day, I know I can pop my head into Dr. Martino’s office for a nice chat, or visit Dr. Choffnes and be greeted with a warm cup of tea. The relationships I have built on this campus will always be my favorite.”

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite spot on campus is definitely Starbucks. It’s a great place to meet friends and study (during classes when it’s quieter, of course). Nothing is better than grabbing a few moments to drink something warm and read a book between classes during the cold Wisconsin winters. I have even taken a few naps in the lounge chairs.”

Biggest surprise so far

“The biggest surprise for me was how fast these past few years have flown. I have had so much fun and I have learned a lot more than I ever thought possible. The number and range of experiences I have had over the years make this a big surprise. I feel like it should have been impossible to do so much in what seems like such a short time. I am very thankful for the research experiences and extracurricular activities I have participated in over the years. They have made my college experience much broader than I could have ever imagined!”

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

“Work hard and take advantage of opportunities. If you have a passion for learning, you’ll have no problem making yourself at home here. Both Carthage and the Neuroscience Program will offer you endless opportunities. Also, think about another discipline that you might like to incorporate into your neuroscience studies. Neuroscience itself is very interdisciplinary, allowing you to explore a broad range of classes in chemistry, biology, and psychology, so take advantage of the opportunity to double-major or add another minor!”