Speaking Success: Autumn Cartagena


Autumn Cartagena is an open option and pre-professional program coordinator. She is originally from Fremont, Iowa.

Logan Metzger

Editor’s Note: This is part nine in the Iowa State Daily’s “Speaking Success” series.

This week’s Academic Success Center tips

Studying can sometimes be very overwhelming and stressful. It can also be hard to structure effectively. Have you ever been unsure of how to prepare for an exam? Have you ever studied for four hours and felt like it didn’t help at all? If that is the case, I would recommend trying to structure your studying differently.

A couple ways to try and implement effective studying into your schedule is by trying the pomodoro technique and intense study sessions. This is where you set a goal for your study time, set a timer anywhere from 30-50 minutes and then take a break. This is a great way to structure your study time and could make a big difference for you!

Another tip that can be really helpful when studying is to reflect on what you got out of the time you just spent studying. Assess your knowledge. Can you confidently complete that practice exam? Could you teach the material you just went over to a friend? These are questions that will help you reflect on how well you know the information.

The adviser

This week’s adviser is Autumn Cartagena, she/her/hers, who is an open option and pre-professional program coordinator. She is originally from Fremont, Iowa.

How would you introduce yourself?

I’m a book-loving, question-asking, people-feeding, 2w3, ENFP who has the privilege of doing for a living what I would be doing as a human, whether you paid me or not.

How many years have you worked at Iowa State University?

I began working as a student employee in the department of English my sophomore year of my undergraduate experience at Iowa State. I continued in various student roles through graduate school and began working as a professional adviser in 2008.

Why did you choose Iowa State University?   

Throughout high school, I was convinced that I wanted to go to a small, private, out-of-state school, but when I began visiting, none of them felt like the right fit.  A high school friend invited me to join her family for a weekend at Iowa State to see her brother in a theater production, and I thought this will be so much FUN (plus, they had my intended major: psychology.)  I applied, was accepted and it was so much FUN!

How would you explain your job to someone who doesn’t know what it is?

I support students in figuring out what the next best step is for them.

What is something you never thought you would do in your job?

Back when I worked in the department of anthropology, I often received bugs in the mail as people confused us with entomology.

What is something you want people to know about your job?

I’m more than a signature. My favorite thing is when someone contacts me because they need a form signed or an administrative function completed, but we end up having a wonderfully deep, engaging life conversation. It’s the best.

What is something you want your advisees to know about your job?

That they are the best part of the job. Hands down. Always.

What is your favorite part of your job?

See above.

What advice do you have for students?

Celebrate your embodied state, especially in times of prolonged stress (e.g. global pandemic, Finals Week, life transitions). Most of us only get one liver (and all the other organs for that matter) — try to take care of it.  Drink water, get rest, eat in a way that leaves you feeling nourished and be active in ways that feel life-giving to you.  Your brain is a magical assortment of chemical, biological and psychological wonder — delight in it, learn about it and use it. Investigate the way your culture, your relationships, your inner narrative and your environment influence the way you move and have your being.

Favorite location to eat, hangout or work on campus?

The Lago Courtyard is the BEST place to capture Insta-worthy images of all four seasons. Those archways. All the heart eyes.

Favorite location to eat, hangout or work off campus?

The Main Street District. The Farmer’s Market, coffee shops, local stores for all the things AND the new Dog-Eared Books. You’ll find me in their loft as much as possible!


I love merging the practical with the creative. I enjoy design and social media work for small businesses and school-related organizations. I like combining ingredients into meals like some folks enjoy combining clothing into outfits. And I’m constantly on the quest to convince family and friends that everything in life is better with a theme!