“I think often of the quote that says ‘talent is equally dispersed but opportunity is not’ and I think opportunity to achieve as much as I’ve been able to is in part because of the support and advocacy I’ve received from Breakthrough over the last 15 or so years.” – James Carter, Rice University, c/o 2017; Columbia University, PhD, expected 2023
Q & A
How does it feel to have become a first-generation college graduate?
It is a major point of pride for me and my siblings. Some research was published recently that found that 22% of professors have at least one parent who has a PhD and that number approaches 50% at top-ranked schools. Being a first-generation college student turned professor I think will really help me put into perspective the concerns and challenges some of my students will face and hopefully be a role model to them for the possibilities that are out there.
Tell us about your career or postsecondary pathway since graduation.
I moved to New York right after college to begin graduate school at Columbia. It felt like a natural progression and now I’m finishing this spring and will begin a tenure-track professorship at the Industrial and Labor Relations School at Cornell University in Fall 2023.
Tell us about the impact your Breakthrough experience has had on your life? What impact has it had on your family?
Access to quality and enriching education has always been important in my life–a value my mother worked hard to instill in us. That started with joining Breakthrough in middle school and led me to opportunities like attending St. Stephen’s and going to Rice and graduate school and beyond. I think often of the quote that says “talent is equally dispersed but opportunity is not” and I think opportunity to achieve as much as I’ve been able to is in part because of the support and advocacy I’ve received from Breakthrough over the last 15 or so years.
Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?
I see myself in Ithaca! Hopefully teaching a handful of wonderful Breakthrough students who have ventured up to Ithaca to study ILR at Cornell. It’s a great program!