Project Manager at Northwestern Mutual
Always a lover of stars, Cassandra Bossong ’21 enrolled at Carthage because of the College’s Space Sciences Program and its affiliation with the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC). Within the program, she was able to participate in the Microgravity Team, which conducts research projects with NASA, and win the prestigious Lemelson-MIT Student Prize national group competition for her work on Modal Propellant Gauging technology.
Now, Ms. Bossong oversees a team of data scientists, data analysts, and data engineers as a project manager for Northwestern Mutual.
“I chose Carthage because of the Space Sciences Program. I am so fortunate to have been able to spend a majority of my college career at Carthage and have so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in such a short period of time.”
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
“I have enjoyed the supportive community at Northwestern Mutual and the endless opportunities for personal and professional growth. There are so many different trainings, self-paced learnings, events/conferences, and mentorship opportunities that are all for individual benefit and the benefit of others.”
How did Carthage prepare you?
“Being a physics major helped me prepare for my career. Physics taught me how to take any system, no matter how big or small, and make sense of it. I learned many skills such as technical communication, time management, problem solving, and analysis. At Carthage, I learned about different coding softwares that my team at Northwestern Mutual uses daily, so I have a great understanding of what they do, which helps me communicate their value to my stakeholders.
“Also, my amazing experience with the Space Sciences Program and WSGC truly launched my career as a project manager. Working on the various projects in the program taught me how to work with a team and effectively manage a group of people with different strengths and weaknesses.”
How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?
“Carthage taught me how to be well-rounded and adaptive to any environment. I was able to quickly become comfortable using various tools/techniques, frameworks, and standards to effectively do my job. Simultaneously, I was able to build lasting relationships with my team, my stakeholders, and my business partners — helping me create and foster a healthy work environment. It’s one thing to be able to do the job, but the relationship building is the most important. I also had to navigate this during a time when everything was fully virtual, which was an extra hurdle I had to overcome in order to build these critical relationships and understand the work.”
Why did you choose Carthage?
“Since I was a little girl, I have been in love with the stars. My grandparents lived in Huntsville, Alabama, and I visited the U.S. Space & Rocket Center there every year since I was 5 years old. I grew up in Kenosha, and until I was searching for colleges my senior year of high school, I had no idea that NASA’s eyes for Wisconsin was truly in my backyard. I chose Carthage because of the Space Sciences Program. I am so fortunate to have been able to spend a majority of my college career at Carthage and have so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in such a short period of time.”
What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?
“I was able to participate on the Microgravity Team by doing research in zero-gravity through the Zero-G Corporation; win the national Lemelson-MIT Student Prize competition; send one of my experiments to space and back onboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket; work on technologies that will benefit NASA and humanity as a whole; and speak about my research at EAA Airventure, Discovery World, Capitol Hill, etc.
“I was also able to make lifelong friends and connections that I will carry with me throughout my life. All of these experiences helped me become the person I am today. I believe that we’re a product of everyone and everything we’ve been exposed to — a reflection of all of it.”
What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?
“Professor Kevin Crosby was my biggest supporter in project management. He helped me discover that this was a career path, as well as helped me build skills that would benefit me throughout my entire professional career.
“Professors Jean Quashnock, Daniel Steiner, and Julie Dahlstrom also helped me gain confidence in my abilities and challenged me to think about what I truly wanted in life. I specifically remember being in a meeting with Prof. Dahlstrom and asking her what I should do with my life. She told me that she couldn’t answer that question for me and told me to do what makes my heart happy. That has stuck with me to this day. I am sincerely grateful for all of those hard conversations I had with my professors as I was navigating life after graduation. I am so thankful for them and their impact on my life.”
Were you an award recipient? If so, tell us about the awards you received and what they meant to you.
“As an undergraduate, I had several academic scholarships and a scholarship through WSGC to further pursue research. My team and I also won the national Lemelson-MIT Student Prize competition for our work with the Space Sciences Program. Upon graduation, I was inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honors society, for my leadership and academic strengths.”
What role have the values in Carthage's mission, "Seeking Truth, Building Strength, Inspiring Service — Together" played in your life?
“I am centered around truth, honesty, and integrity through how I was raised and the people I have been surrounded by throughout my life. I always try to help everyone I meet as much as possible. After graduation, I reached out and acted as a mentor to my past classmates. Whether it’s helping them with their resume, assisting them with mock-interviews, or talking about different career paths; I have been there because I want to be like the people before me that create a healthy environment and inspire people to pay it forward.”