Black History Month: Dr David G. Carter
My name is Natasha Husain, and I am the founder of TheMuslimMoon. I want to share a story with you all. Those who have met me will know that I was raised in Dubai since birth. When I turned 18, I left the desert heat of the Middle East to move to Connecticut to attend university.
Arriving in Windham, CT, in the fall of 1999, I wasn’t just struck by the greenery or the picturesque scenery of a quaint East Coast town. I was suddenly aware of just how many miles lay between me and my support network - my parents, my friends, the city I grew up in. Overnight, it was all different.
The only consolation I had was that my elder brother was already studying at the same university and Dr. David G. Carter, with whom I was familiar from times when he would visit our home in Dubai during his business travels.
A Constant Source of Support and Engagement, Miles from Home
On my first day in Windham, Dr. Carter, then Eastern Connecticut State University’s President - was entrusted by my parents with my educational development and responsibility. I remember him comforting my parents before they flew back home, with the notion that my brother and I will always be in the best of his care while we were miles away from home.
I vividly remember days when I would walk uphill early in the morning among piles of snow to grab breakfast at the food hall before a class. If he saw me passing by from his office window, he would come down to join me for breakfast.
During these catch-ups, he would always inquire about my course loads and how I was faring in class - all the while having complete knowledge of my grades. I will also never forget that on September 11, 2001, Dr Carter made a visit to our dormitory to reassure my brother and I - two Muslim students from the Middle East - of his continued care and support.
Mentor, Role Model and Comfort
If you find it surprising that a President of a University was so supportive towards two international students, let it be known that we weren’t the only ones. For everyone who attended Eastern CT, this was the norm. Dr. Carter greeted everyone who walked by him on campus, and always showed concern and care for everyone he met.
As a leader in his field, both in his unprecedented achievements and the historical significance of him breaking barriers as an African American, Dr. Carter was a mentor, a role model, and a comfort to so many students.
Dr Carter's Personal and Professional Legacy
He was the first African American university president in the state of Connecticut who went on to become the Chancellor of four Connecticut state universities. Dr. Carter talked endlessly about his passion for education, and for growing the Connecticut state university system to insurmountable recognition - a goal he certainly delivered.
In his professional career, Dr. Carter secured the single largest grant for a university that helped transform Eastern Connecticut's role in education. No small feat by any measure, but made more remarkable by the fact he lost his father at age five, grew up in the poorest of neighbourhoods in Dayton, Ohio and suffered severe burns as a child from his family’s uninsured shop fire.
Dr. Carter didn’t just wave goodbye after I graduated from university, he stayed in touch with me and my family while I pursued my Masters and a professional career. Looking back several years later, I was certainly in the best of his care. Not only was he my support network away from home, Dr Carter was also one of the most important and influential mentors in my life to date.
On the first day of Black History Month, I’d like to dedicate this post to him as a reminder that his kindness will never be forgotten.
Dr. David G Carter
1942 - 2018
Read about Dr. David G. Carter’s 2006 speech on Martin Luther King Day when he became Chancellor of The Connecticut State University System.
My parents and brother with Dr. David G. Carter - President of Eastern CT, Michael Pernal - Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Kimberly M. Crone - Director of Admissions pictured on my university orientation week.