Cailin Kolk

Class Year



Sugar Grove, Ill.


Political Science, Communication



When Cailin Kolk began looking at schools, she didn’t have a clear idea of what she wanted to study. But after she sat down with a history professor and started talking about her interests and favorite subjects, it became clear that political science was the right direction for her.

“Political science is a major that is so rich and so multifaceted,” she said. “It is evolving and changing all the time, and it has an incredible impact on how we go about our everyday lives.”

After Cailin decided on her major, the next step was to find the perfect college. “I realized pretty early on that a small school with close student-faculty ties, and a location that would not only be nice to look at, but be close to transportation and a city, was right for me,” she said.

Carthage proved to be the right match for Cailin. “I liked how it seemed so easy to pick up multiple majors and minors because so many colleges and universities seem to limit their students in terms of what they can study.”

She also liked the political science faculty. “With topics that can be such hot-button issues, the faculty does a great job of directing classes in a way that encourages us as students to make our own informed decisions,” she said.

Since arriving on campus, she has jumped right into campus life. She is president of the Carthage Democarts, secretary of the Political Science Honors Fraternity Pi Sigma Alpha, and has helped organize events on campus that raise awareness of important issues.

Cailin also got the opportunity to travel to Argentina during J-Term last year. “We were studying the social, political and environmental effects of tourism down there, specifically with the glaciers in the southern part of the country. We got travel all the way from Buenos Aires down through El Calafate and El Chalten to the very tip of the continent.”

After she graduates from Carthage, Cailin would like to go to law school to study public interest law. From there she would like to work with policy and civil rights issues.

“I did not expect to gain such great relationships with the faculty and staff at Carthage.”

Cailin Kolk, ’12

Career goal

“To become a public interest lawyer working with policy and civil rights issues.”

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

Professor Marshall is probably my favorite professor, although it is a difficult decision to make. The way in which he presents what could so easily turn into just another boring lecture makes the issues tangible and comprehensible. You walk away from these classes having just had a talk about a Supreme Court decision, and you realize that somehow you actually understand what’s going on and how this one thing affects all these different aspects of your life. He is, like most professors at Carthage, helpful and interested in students.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class was probably Constitutional Law II with Prof. Marshall last spring. Although the reading was not simple, since it was really just reading Supreme Court decisions, I learned so much about the specifics of the law and how the legal process works and flows over time.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class was probably American Government with Prof. Mast, because it was my first class at Carthage and it was jumping right into things. It was a lot of information and was a little bit intimidating as a freshman, but at the same time it was my favorite class that year and I enjoyed having Prof. Mast.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“My favorite moments at Carthage were what we call the ‘Unity’ event, where a group of students including myself organized a counter-voice to a speaker who was on campus to discuss the issue of homosexuality in the eyes of the Christian church last February; and the Vigil held this semester to raise awareness of recent suicides due to bullying. These two events, for me, showed what Carthage students are all about. More than 60 people showed up in February and more than 150 showed up this semester, so progress is being made. Our students are willing to stand up and voice their opinions for the benefit of their peers, and it really makes me proud to be here.”

Favorite spot on campus

“The beach is my favorite spot on campus. It’s so refreshing to be able to just turn around and walk down to the beach to get away from that feeling like you can’t escape school sometimes.”

Biggest surprise so far

“My biggest surprise is how easy it has been to get involved on campus, to get involved in classes, to get acquainted with professors, and to see my peers doing the same thing.”

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

“Do it! At least give it a try. If you’re passionate about the ideas presented to you in class, whether it be philosophy, law or international politics, it is worth your time. Don’t be overly concerned about getting a job. Study what you’re interested in, what you’re passionate about, and what you actually want to learn about, and the job will come. It will be so much more rewarding if it’s something you care about.”