When Timothy Carter was accepted to UM-Dearborn back in 2016, it marked the realization of a two-decade-long dream to study at the University of Michigan. But the longtime Detroit firefighter admits he was nervous when he set foot in the CASL Building for his first day of class.
“I felt like I might not be at the level the other students were,” Carter said. “Those students got into this straight out of high school; it took me 20 years. I felt as if I had something to prove to myself.”
There’s no question Carter has done that in the time since. By the end of his first semester, his grades had earned him a place in the Psychology Honors Program. He’s a member of SOAR and the Psychology Students Association and works in Associate Professor Caleb Siefert’s Interpersonal Relationships Emotion and Personality Lab.
“Since arriving on campus in 2016, Tim has been an engaged and contributing member of our community,” said SOAR Director Ellen Judge-Gonzalez. “He is very proud to be a student at UM-Dearborn, and he truly cares about the welfare of others, both on campus and off.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree, Carter plans to pursue a doctoral program in organizational and industrial psychology. Ultimately, he hopes to develop programs for first responders that reduce the intense strains that come with the profession.
“I have been a firefighter for 16 years and have seen several coworkers suffer due to the overwhelming pressures of the job,” Carter said. “Relationships fall apart, alcoholism and drug abuse run rampant, heart attacks are extremely common. Yet administrators push firefighters to do more. In my research, I want to provide evidence that overworking people costs municipalities more money than they save.”
Carter said in addition to doing the work for his fellow first responders—and himself—he’s also doing it for his son, Timothy Carter III, whom he credits with being a big motivation for his return to school. He wants to be a living example of the power of education to transform lives.