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The Liberal Arts at Carthage

Cherie Robinson '01

Liberal Arts = Teamwork + Problem Solving + Writing

Cherie Robinson is a senior human resources manager for Amazon.

Cherie (Matthaidess) Robinson ’01

While at Carthage: Psychology and business administration double-major, Lady Reds tennis player, member of the Carthage track team.

Now: Senior human resources manager at Amazon.

Big fan of: Carthage’s educational buffet. Sample a lot. Choose your passions. Take every opportunity. “You name it, I dug into it,” she says.

Frustrated that she was carrying the load on a group project in her Carthage accounting class, Cherie (Matthaidess) Robinson ’01 stormed into the professor’s office and asked to switch teams.

Professor David Brunn answered calmly but decisively: No.

Instead, he explained that it was good preparation for the business world, where employees rarely get to hand-pick their teams. His advice? “Go back and think about how you can make that team stronger.”

Although Prof. Brunn has since retired, the lesson is burned in Ms. Robinson’s memory. Only now, instead of four classmates, she supports teams of thousands as a senior human resources manager at Amazon.

That includes 4,500 employees who monitor fraud and risk for the online giant, as well as 1,000 who focus on its payment organization. Based in Seattle, Ms. Robinson collaborates with five national and 15 international HR partners.

Often, the questions that come up are much different from the ones she faced in 11 years at SC Johnson. With 250,000 employees worldwide, it’s easy to forget that Amazon is barely two decades old.

Such rapid growth gives Ms. Robinson plenty to think about. Like making sure the company’s distinct culture is preserved in the hiring frenzy. Or, more practically, how to find good bilingual employees to start operations from scratch in South Africa, Costa Rica, and the Czech Republic.

“This requires a lot of creativity,” she said. “It’s not about ‘Where do I turn to in a book?’”

When creative solutions come, Ms. Robinson often owes them to her growth at Carthage.

Professors’ constant challenges taught her to think critically about big questions. Staying active in tennis, track, and other student groups — “You name it, I dug into it,” she says — shaped her into an organized, confident leader.

Carthage’s emphasis on written communication paid off, too. The grueling process of writing her psychology senior thesis has come in especially handy.

“That’s the type of thing that I write quite often here at Amazon,” said Ms. Robinson.

Her second major was business administration. She declared them only after sampling a variety of subjects as a freshman. That educational buffet fed her curiosity then, and now it helps her to bridge the gap between software developers, researchers, and operations staff.

“In HR, I support a variety of groups,” Ms. Robinson said. “I might not be an expert in that space, but I know a little bit about it.”

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  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2017), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wins, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016 and 2017, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 11 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …

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