February 2018, News & Features

Growing up around poverty gave him the desire to serve

When Keshawn Carter was in middle school in Henderson, NC, he would see the same woman waiting with her two kids every morning at one of the stops of his school bus. It became routine but, one day, Carter noticed something odd: It was cold, and the woman did not have on a coat.

Carter realized that the woman could not afford winter clothing. He began to see how much poverty was around him. He focused, for the first time, on the poor condition of the bus: the torn seats, the tattered floor, the roof in need of repair.

Carter also began to see his classmates with new eyes. “I realized that there were a lot of kids that, like me, just wanted to be loved,” Carter recalled.

With the help of the community’s family-oriented values, Carter was able to overcome poverty, violence and educational struggles in his youth. But his experience growing up helped form a desire to help others.

“I’m not saying this in a boastful manner…but I try to be the voice for those who are not able to speak and a leader to those who need guidance,” Carter said. “Whether rich or poor, black or white, it is our duty to take care of our own people. We cannot continue to be blind to their situation.”

Now a senior at Saint Augustine’s University majoring in public health, Carter has worked diligently on the “Falcons Fly Tobacco Free” program, which involves establishing a tobacco-free policy, and conducting various activities and programming on campus to support the program. In addition, Carter spearheaded the planning process for “Saint Augustine’s University and Shaw University Presents: Together We Can: One Health, One Body HBCU Summit.” That event was held on Nov. 2, 2017, on Saint Augustine’s campus.

Carter’s other activities on campus include vice president of Falcons 4 Health, a student-led organization concerned with community needs. Among the activities of that organization are distributing condoms to people who cannot afford them.

He also has been heavily involved in the campus’ sports medicine team and has done volunteer work with the American Cancer Society, helping them with their “making Strides Against Breast Cancer” campaign.

Now that Carter is ready to graduate, he hopes that his legacy of serving inspires others. “Our next generation must learn the importance of community service,” he said. “We must learn that the world is bigger than us.”

— Kelsee Arnold