A man of honor
C.C. Carter uses his own past to motivate students
On the wall of C.C. Carter‘s office at Chico State hangs John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. Fifteen blocks, 15 characteristics the famous UCLA basketball coach believes are the keys to attaining one’s goals—traits such as enthusiasm, poise, confidence, industriousness.
For Carter, the words read like a personality profile.
The 50-year-old Carter works as the associate director for leadership programs in the Chico State Student Activities Office, on the second floor of Bell Memorial Union. He is also a representative to the Associated Students Multicultural Affairs Council, and he serves as an adviser for Men of Honor, a campus group that brings together blacks from the community and the campus.
“He’s just such a motivator and educator, and he likes to empower people,” said Tray Robinson, Chico State’s diversity coordinator. “He goes out of his way to help anybody.”
Robinson, 36, initially met Carter as a student at Chico State. Carter served as a mentor to the young Robinson, who needed guidance after moving to Chico from a rough neighborhood of Compton. The two are now good friends and colleagues, and they work together on many campus projects.
“He has a way of connecting to students, faculty and staff across the board,” Robinson said.
Carter’s own upbringing was less than conventional. The child of an African-American father and Japanese mother, he grew up in San Francisco in the 1960s. His father left the family soon after his birth; his mother died from a heart attack when he was just 13. Carter was separated from his two sisters and sent to three foster homes over the next three years. He learned how to become self-reliant.
At the suggestion of a man he calls his “guardian brother,” Carter enrolled at Chico State. After the initial culture shock—"I thought I was in a cowboy movie"—he found a community full of friendly people. He was drawn to the town. Carter’s sisters followed him to Chico and became Chico State alumnae. When he graduated, he found a position working at the university.
“Chico has a special community,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade what I have in Chico for anything in the world.”
Carter worked as a career development specialist and in the Athletic Department before moving to Student Affairs. His work with Men of Honor has helped blacks in the community offer guidance and support to black students at Chico State.
“The elders got as much from the students as the students got from the elders,” Carter said. “It’s a reciprocal process.”
Men of Honor follows Carter’s goal—and work—of putting young students in positions of leadership. The group not only gathers for fun activities but also represents the university at functions (such as the Boys and Girls Club benefit at BMU this year).
“I really like where the men are,” Carter said. “They continue to amaze me, inspire me.”