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History major earns full ride for prestigious graduate program

February 22, 2019

KOKOMO, Ind. –  When Douglas Carter enrolled at Indiana University Kokomo, he set aside his love of history to major in criminal justice, because he wanted a career that wouldn’t require graduate school.

A class about the history of Russia and the Soviet Union, along with encouragement from faculty, changed his mind. He will graduate in May with a degree in history and political science — and has already been offered a full scholarship to earn a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina, which was his top choice. He’s excited to have his next steps in place for after Commencement.

“It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I got my first acceptance letter, and then my second acceptance letter, and my third,” said Carter, who plans to study German history from the 1930s to the 1980s. “I look forward to having the opportunity to mix my interest with my future profession.”

Carter is one of 16 students selected from 184 applicants into the program that is ranked 11th in the nation overall, and ninth in European history, according to Sarah Heath, chair of the Department of History, Political Science, and Sociology.

Faculty support is what encouraged Carter to apply, even when he didn’t believe in himself.

“It was nice to have professors I respect tell me they believed I could get into a program I wanted to attend,” the Kokomo resident said, adding that he completed a criminal justice minor so he could work in law enforcement if graduate school didn’t work out.

“Now it’s like telling yourself ‘Ha! I was right, you were wrong,’ and you can convince yourself you were worrying this whole time for nothing,” Carter said. “Everyone else wants me to admit that I was wrong, that always puts a smile on my face.

“We could not be prouder of Douglas, and we think he demonstrates the best our program has to offer,” Heath said. “That he should be accepted to one of the best graduate programs in the nation shows that at IU Kokomo we prepare students to compete among the nation’s leading scholars.”

Carter’s interest in German history stems from watching History TV documentaries while growing up, and from living in Berlin after graduating from Kokomo High School in 2008.

“I had an opportunity to integrate into the German culture and identify with much of it,” he said.

When Carter came home to Kokomo, he wasn’t sure he had the patience for a bachelor’s degree, and considered two-year college. He’d taken a college history class that piqued his interest, but chose criminal justice instead, thinking he could get a good job without further education.

A history class changed everything.

He enrolled in a class about the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union, and “from the very beginning, I knew this was the right thing. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is me.’”

Carter changed his major and began building relationships with faculty members, making a point to stop in for office hours several times weekly.

“I always tried to go above and beyond, and it really paid off for me,” he said. “I have good relationships with all of my professors. They’re as helpful as you need them to be. They’re all enjoyable to work with, outstanding teachers, and well-informed. I can’t say enough good things about them.”

Carter is proud that he will be an IU Kokomo alumnus.

“IU Kokomo is definitely a school where you can get a whole lot out of it, but you also have to put in a whole lot. The quality of education I received here was well worth it. It was more than worth it.”

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 02/22/2019