Dr Pamela Carter & the PhD Project
The PhD Project is an initiative to attract African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans to careers as business-school professors. Those careers require a PhD, of course, so the PhD Project encourages and supports its participants in their doctoral programs. Dr Pamela D. Carter, an IS professor at HBCU North Carolina A&T University, has been involved with the PhD Project since 1995. She has served as a planning committee member and faculty advisor for the PhD Project IS Doctoral Student Association, one of several discipline-specific networks.
In her career Carter has mentored many undergrad, graduate and doctoral students, and her family heritage is rich with work toward the equality and education of African Americans. So it's no surprise to find Carter an energetic member of the PhD Project.
"The really fun part of my job is working with all the students," she says. "You can do something that seems small and it has a huge impact on the student."
Carter was a PhD Project student herself and knows how good it's been for her. She was born in North Carolina and grew up in Yardley, PA, just north of Philadelphia. Her great-grandfather was a professor at North Carolina A&T; her father was in the first integrated class at North Carolina State; her mother was in the second integrated class at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and an uncle helped found North Carolina Central. "I feel like I'm contributing to family tradition," Carter says with pride.
She graduated from George Mason University (Fairfax County, VA) in 1992 with a BSIS and completed her MBA at the University of Maryland in 1994.
Originally she'd thought of a career in HR, so her MBA concentration was HR management and organizational behavior. As a student she worked for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors for a year.
Her first job out of college was as an assistant professor at Northern Virginia Community College, teaching office systems technology. It drew on her BS in applied business and her desktop publishing experience.
While there, she got a postcard from the PhD Project announcing its first conference to introduce business professionals to the possibility of getting a PhD. "I wrote up my application that night and FedExed it the next day. I was accepted and went to that first conference, and it probably changed my life!" she says.
At the conference she met people with the same interest she had in the organizational and behavioral aspects of MIS. Her new friends were studying at Florida State, and on their advice she applied and was accepted there for her PhD. She finished the degree in 2000.
Carter strongly encourages students to attend the PhD Project's conference each year because of the positive effect it had on her life. "You can learn so much about what is involved in getting a PhD, and you can interact and have sessions with teachers and administrators," she says. She's sure the guidance she got there was the key to her success.
"You become a member of a doctoral student association for your discipline, and they have their own very informative conferences," she explains. In fact, Carter has helped put together her group's conference. "You're a mentor for the new students coming in."
After she got her PhD Carter became a faculty mentor for the PhD Project. She's been part of a planning committee and often a panelist at the conference.
Carter's first post-PhD job was at the University of Oklahoma in 2000. In 2004 she moved to Florida State University and in 2008 she took her current job at North Carolina A&T. "I love this school," she says. "They think it's important to focus on the students and are very supportive of specialty service."
Carter's own specialty service includes South African research work, for which she received the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Jr faculty enhancement award. She used the award to help the South Africa department of water affairs and forestry shape its data management practices so people in South Africa could have access to better water. The award, she says, "helped me validate my own sense of values." She has also received a "best published paper" award from the Academy of Management and reviewing awards from two premier MIS academic journals.
All in all, she says, the PhD Project helped shape her teaching career, and lets her help the students coming after her. It gathers together a strong community of people with shared experiences.
"You have folks who can say, 'It happened to me, too. Let me tell you how to handle that.' It's a great support system from people who can identify with your point of view, and you with theirs.
"That's a reason why the rate of graduation is so high for students that come through the PhD Project. You really get the support you need!"
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