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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

COE Graduate Helps Students Succeed

 Shakerra Carter
Coming from a low-income family. Being the first to go to college. Feeling like you don’t belong.

These are some of the barriers Shakerra Carter had to overcome when pursuing a higher education, the same challenges she aims to eliminate as the new associate dean of Outreach and Pre-Enrollment Services for the San Diego Community College District.

“The position I am in now will allow me to help underrepresented students on two levels. First, I get to work with leaders who are passionate about seeking systemic transformational change…(so that) all students can be successful regardless of their background,” Carter said. “Second, in my Outreach capacity, I am always seeking opportunities to connect with students and to share my story. It is important that students are able to hear from someone who looks like them and who was also able to overcome great challenges in order to understand that they can do it to.”

Born to a single teen mom, Carter knew the importance of getting a college education because her mother always stressed the importance of it. After graduating from Southwest High School, Carter pursued a college education at California State University, Chico, where she earned a degree in Child Development.

While at CSU, Chico, Carter was a student ambassador and peer advisor for students like herself navigating their first year of college. There she was also president of the African Student Union and helped to establish Women of Excellence, a student support group.

“As a student of color attending a predominantly white college, I experienced many barriers, including not understanding the lingo of higher education, financial uncertainty,” Carter said. “Of all the barriers I would say the most challenging was trying to figure out where I fit in.”

After graduation, Carter went on to get a master's degree from the College of Education in post-secondary educational leadership. She also worked at UC San Diego, where she helped students in low-income middle and high schools prepare for college. Carter later took a position at San Diego State University as Lead Transfer Admissions Counselor and coordinated transfer recruitment initiatives with community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Before her current position, Carter worked at Grossmont Community College, where she oversaw the administration and development of student life and leadership activities, including student government advising and coordination of student organizations.

“Being the first in my family to attend college, I was able to see first-hand the positive impact education has had on me as an individual as well as my family. My educational background has allowed me to pursue career opportunities that otherwise would not have been available to me,” said Carter, who also credits her mother for her success because “she demonstrated through her own life that we are bigger than the barriers placed before us.”

As associate dean of Outreach and Pre-Enrollment Services, Carter works with the district’s three colleges and continuing education programs in the planning, implementing and assessing of outreach initiatives and activities in local schools, universities and community organizations.

“I believe that education is foundation through which social change occurs. Education changes generations. I want to be on the side that breaks down barriers that prevent students from pursuing their education,” added Carter, who is married to Gregory Carter II and is the mother of two young children.

Carter said she plans to get a doctoral degree from SDSU and would like to continue working in the community college system “to help improve educational outcomes for underrepresented students.”