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UT Austin honor student Stefani D. Carter learns value of being intellectually curious

At least one professor calls Stefani D. Carter an “over-achiever” but the talented honor student at The University of Texas at Austin said she is just following her father’s advice.

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AUSTIN, Texas—At least one professor calls Stefani D. Carter an “over-achiever” but the talented honor student at The University of Texas at Austin said she is just following her father’s advice.

“My father is my role model. He always told me, ‘You can do what you want in life as long as you put your mind to it,’ and I try to live up to that standard,” said Carter. After earning a 3.83 grade point average, she is among the students to be recognized during Honors Day ceremonies on campus Saturday (April 15).

Carter, a junior majoring in journalism and government, is the daughter of Dell and Charlotte Carter of Plano. Her academic performance has earned her numerous awards, including more than $30,000 worth of merit-based scholarships. She is one of 15 people chosen from among the student body as a Cactus Outstanding Student Award winner for 2000, and was a nominee for the University Co-Op Award for Superior Intellectual Achievement.

Carter also has served on the Communication Council and is president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Her campus affiliations include membership in four honor societies including Kappa Tau Alpha, Pi Sigma Alpha, UT Judicial Service Organization and Golden Key. She has interned at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., and received the Larry Wade Journalism Fellowship.

Although her studies and campus activities require a great deal of her time and energy, Carter also sets aside a few hours a week to work part-time for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) office in Austin, performing mostly clerical duties. She also has served as a volunteer with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Foundation program, Literacy Austin and the Victory Tutorial Program.

Carter said she is proud to be listed among the University’s honor students but notes that she has worked hard for that distinction. She said her father demonstrated determination in his own life when he ventured away from an engineering job about six years ago to start his own business in landscaping, which is now doing quite well.

With her parents back in Plano, Carter sought out other role models upon coming to the University. Among the most influential have been Dr. Frank Richardson, Dr. Stephen Reese and Dr. América Rodriguez, she said.

“I always go to them for advice,” said Carter. “I can communicate with them.”

Carter expects to graduate with honors in the spring of 2001 and afterward will pursue a law degree, perhaps to focus on the field of corporate law.

The past few years at UT Austin have been a transforming experience, she said.

“As a freshman, I didn’t understand why it was important to delve more into important issues. By being here, I’ve learned why it’s important to be intellectually curious,” she said.