Jenna Leazott, a political science and sociology double-major, came to Carthage for two reasons: First, she received a generous scholarship. Second, she wanted to study in small classes and really get to know her professors.
“I loved being friends with my teachers in high school, and I knew that the best way for me to engage in the classroom and make meaningful connections — both personally and professionally — was to go to a school with a lower teacher-to-student ratio,” she said. “The lakefront property isn’t bad either!”
“I plan on going into the humanitarian aid sector, specifically working with Syrian refugee relief in refugee camps abroad and resettlement programs at home.”
“When I was first deliberating which college to attend, my parents pushed me to meet with a political science professor so I could get a better feel for the program. I picked Dr. Jeff Roberg from the list of faculty because he is the head of the department. The rest is history. Not only has he been my advisor all three years at Carthage — and my professor in class many times over — he is the advisor for Model United Nations.”
Jenna was a member of Model UN in high school. That’s actually how she learned about Carthage in the first place — by attending Carthage’s Model UN high school conference.
Now, “I have traveled the world with Dr. Roberg three times, and he has inspired in me an itch to travel that I have not been able to get rid of since!” Jenna said. “He encourages and pushes me to follow my dreams unwaveringly, he helps guide and advise me when I don’t know what step to take next, and he is genuinely the best instructor I have had the pleasure of having thus far. He genuinely cares for his students, and I am extremely lucky to be able to be one of the ‘Roberg Kids.’”
“The Problem of Progress by Dr. Rick Matthews was by far the greatest class I have ever taken. It was taken for the Honors Program, and there were only five students in the class. Because of the small size, we got to know each other very well. We were comfortable enough around each other to talk about pretty much anything.
“Dr. Matthews let us lead a lot of the discussions, allowing us to pursue topics that interested us the most. It challenged our ways of thinking and living, our minds were opened to new ideas, and we came out with a greater sense of purpose.
“It’s hard to explain until you take the class for yourself, but I left that class far more confident and optimistic about what I want to do with the rest of my life. It was everything I had ever wanted out of a college class, and I am forever grateful for the life and academic lessons I learned in it.”
“I think the hardest one for me was Latin American Politics with Dr. Roberg. It was my first-ever night class, and my first introduction to a college-level Comparative Politics class. Although it was the class that convinced me to declare my Comparative Politics concentration, it was definitely a class I had to work for. Luckily, I had already taken a class with Dr. Roberg, so I knew what I was getting myself into with the workload and expectations for essays. Nonetheless, I had little to no prior knowledge or experience with Latin America, and I found myself having to really catch up to understand a lot of what was going on. However, I survived and came out a more well-informed student. What I learned in Latin American Politics helped me immensely with other Comparative classes, like Middle East Politics and African Transitions.”
“Over this past summer, I worked as a Development and Donor intern at Tree House Humane Society in Chicago. Tree House is the largest no-kill, no-cage cat shelter in the Chicagoland area, and I was lucky enough to be a part of their team over the summer. I was involved with data and adoption entry, merchandise, some event preparation, and even writing cat cards for their sponsors. I absolutely loved working with my supervisor, everyone else in the shelter, and of course, the cats!
“Although it was sometimes hard getting work done with cats sleeping on my keyboard, I learned a lot about how nonprofits operate. It really solidified my choice to go into the nonprofit sector for a career.
“This J-Term, I will be traveling to Jos, Nigeria, to work at Grace Gardens to assist with their safe house for women transitioning from the brothels to having job in the legitimate employment sector.”
Opportunities at Carthage
“My freshman and sophomore years, I had the opportunity to travel abroad to Bucharest, Romania, and Bogotá, Colombia, with Carthage’s Model United Nations for conferences. There, we simulated the United Nations, created resolutions, won awards, made global friendships, and learned a lot about the local culture.
“My trip to Bucharest was the first time I had been abroad, and Model UN’s continued abroad conferences provide me with the best possible opportunities to do what I love — travel and Model UN!
“My sophomore year, I got to travel all around Cuba with Dr. Roberg and Dr. Penny Seymoure for J-Term. Not only was I with my favorite professor and my best friends, I had the opportunity to explore a country that very few Americans ever get to see. I made lasting friendships with Carthage and Cuban students, and learned about the history, politics, economics, and culture of Cuba more in-depth than most people ever get to experience. It was truly the greatest month of my life, and it has really set me apart when talking to not only friends and family, but on my resume as well. It humbled me, it opened my eyes, and it gave me a new appreciation for both America and the uniqueness of Cuban culture.”
“I received the Ruud Scholarship for full tuition for four years. This scholarship has truly given me the opportunity to pursue my academic and personal interests to the fullest extent. Because I am graduating with no debt, I have more freedom to travel the world, both with Carthage and without. It gives me more opportunity to invest in my future, and it gives me freedom to do what I want right after college rather than trying to pay off my student debts with a higher paying job that I might not enjoy nearly as much as nonprofit work. Too many students graduate with massive amounts of crushing debt, and I am grateful that I am the outlier in that statistic, because it means that I can more freely pursue my dreams and start making a meaningful difference in the world.”
“I am currently the secretary for Model United Nations, the Vice President for Amnesty International, and the Treasurer for Honors Council. I also belong to Iota Iota Iota, the Women’s and Gender Studies honor society; Alpha Lambda Delta, the freshman honor society; Alpha Mu Gamma, the language honor society; and Omicron Delta Kappa, the leadership honor society. I will also be getting inducted into Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science honor society, and Alpha Kappa Delta, the Sociology honor society this upcoming year. I love the wide range of organizations Carthage has to offer — there is truly something for everyone here!”
Favorite moments at Carthage
“One of my favorite memories would definitely have to be from Cuba. There are few things in this world that can match sitting on a beach in a ‘forbidden’ country in January, hiking through tobacco fields during a rainstorm, dining on top of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite hotel, or snorkeling in crystal clear Caribbean waters.
“Model United Nations has provided the rest of my favorite memories, whether it be traveling to Bucharest and eating the best shawarma at 2 a.m. after a long day of committee, talking to Venezuelan friends about the reality of living under Maduro, or bringing home seven awards after our Chicago conference. I have been very blessed to be able to travel the world and nation with my best friends, opening my eyes to so many new things and making me a more well-rounded, more empathetic person.”
Biggest surprise so far?
“The amount of opportunities available to me so far. I knew that going to a small school would allow me to do more than if I had gone to a large school, but I was not prepared for the amount of opportunities I had in store for me. I have multiple jobs on campus, connections to jobs after college, opportunities to see the world, research, and do so much more.”
What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?
“My 8-year-old self really wanted to be a marine biologist or a mermaid, so I think she would be really confused as to why I went over to the social sciences. But younger me loved helping people, too, and I think she would be very proud of me for what I want to do for the rest of my life. She’d probably still be upset that I wasn’t a mermaid yet, though.”
Advice for other students considering your major
“Don’t limit yourself by thinking that political science is only for people who want to go into politics or go to law school. There are obviously a lot of people in this major who want to do those things, but there is so much else you can do and so many other paths you can consider. You will come out of the major knowing how to research and write extremely well — a skill that is desperately needed in the job market today. You will understand current affairs a lot better, and you will know how to speak intelligently about them. Plus, you will be surrounded by people who are planning to go on to be politicians and other high-ranking officials, which could potentially help you out down the road with networking and job hunting.”