Carters Share Family Name, Alma Mater, Academic Advisor

May 17, 2007

Mary Baldwin University senior McCall Carter developed an earnest intellectual relationship with her father at a young age, but she never really pictured herself in a classroom where they were student peers. Until her freshman year in the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) at Mary Baldwin, when she found herself vying with him for the top grade in Introduction to Logic. The friendly competition worked — they both earned As — and McCall is set to earn her degree first. Her parents will watch proudly as she receives her undergraduate diploma at Commencement May 20.

The Carters’ familial association with Mary Baldwin University can be classified as rare. McCall’s mother, Sandra, was the first in the family to enroll, choosing the college’s then-new Baldwin Online and Adult Programs (Baldwin Online and Adult Programs) in 1981. Her father, Alan, followed closely behind, entering in 1983, just after Sandra finished her degree. Older sister Erin spent the last few years of what would have been her high school education as a day student in the undergraduate program at Mary Baldwin. McCall, the youngest of four Carter children, carried on the family tradition, skipping from eighth grade to college in 2003. And mother, father, and daughters Erin and McCall have worked with the same academic advisor, Roderic Owen, professor of philosophy.

“The way Alan and McCall treated each other in their roles as students — not just father and daughter — was wonderful,” Owen said.

“I am particularly impressed with the way they embrace Christian faith and apply their study of philosophy and religion to academic and personal endeavors,” he said. Owen was moved and educated by McCall Carter’s senior philosophy thesis on philosophical support for genocide intervention and her efforts to halt the situation in Darfur.

Alan Carter has enjoyed working on his education on an as-needed basis while juggling the ever-changing business ventures he calls “serial entrepreneurship.” He took nearly 10 years off from classes, and — with a major in philosophy — was able to pick up where he left off. “I wouldn’t still be here if the program wasn’t so flexible. I knew I could do it little by little,” he said. His leisurely timeframe also gave him the opportunity to do something few parents can, classroom learning side-by-side with their own child.

Philosophy Senior Seminar in 2005–06 was a one-of-a-kind experience for McCall and Alan. The topic was Nietzsche, and father and daughter sometimes took opposing views on his teachings and writings. McCall has a major in philosophy, like her dad, and one in political science. She will also be one of the first Mary Baldwin graduates with a minor in peacemaking and conflict resolution. Their spirited debates undoubtedly helped McCall as a member of the Mary Baldwin Ethics Debate Team that clinched second place in the statewide Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges Ethics Bowl this year.

Erin Carter — who attended Mary Baldwin in the 1990s — went on to Taylor University for her undergraduate degree and Yale Divinity School for graduate school and now works in advertising. Sandra Carter worked as an art therapist at Augusta Medical Center and teaches art classes for adults and children in Staunton. Alan Carter will finish his degree while working at the Staunton branch of University Instructors, a multi-state organization that pairs K–12 students with professional tutors. What is next for the upcoming Carter family graduate?

McCall could join her sister Lorien at Washington University School of Social Work — she recently received their acceptance letter. She has also applied to law programs at Cornell University, Boston College, and Columbia University. Not surprisingly, law school is a pursuit her dad entertained earlier in his life.

A Full Four Years: Selected Activities and Honors of McCall Carter ’07

  • Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Beta Kappa
  • Student Leadership Honor and Integrity Award
  • Distinction in philosophy major
  • Honor Scholar
  • Student Alumnae/i Relations Society
  • Baldwin Christian Ministries, president 2006–07
  • Peer advisor
  • Orientation leader (2004–06) and co-chair (2007)