It's Anything But Business As Usual for Philander Smith's Mikia Carter

A junior at Philander Smith College, Mikia E.C. Carter is a Business Administration major, with a minor in Political Science. She is a University of California SIEML Fellow, Campus Ambassador for Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business, George C. Taylor Scholar, Zonta International Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholar, UNCF Corporate Scholar and a MasterCard Worldwide Scholar. This summer, she completed an internship at Dell, Inc. working as an Undergraduate Sr. Financial Analyst. She has interned with Scottrade, Citigroup, and Clariden Leu in the past. She is president of Philander Smith’s International Students Organization and Vice President of Phi Beta Lambda.

When I was seven years old, one of the activities of my paternal family reunion was visiting the gravesite of Mary McLeod Bethune (Barber-Scotia College, 1894) at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. At the time, I knew nothing about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) or little still, about historical figures like Bethune. College was at the bottom of my seven-year old agenda, while swimming in the pool or going to Chuckie Cheese were at the very top.  My lack of enthusiasm can be noted in the picture below.  I’m the little girl on the right awaiting my next opportunity to throw a temper tantrum to my father (rear, far right).

If the little girl in the picture only knew she would one day attend an HBCU where she would cultivate a real appreciation for figures like Mary McLeod Bethune. I first learned about my HBCU, Philander Smith College, when the then-Admissions Director spoke to a group of students at The Bahamas’ Junior Achievement Conference. I filled out the application form on the spot and fate led me to Little Rock, Arkansas and to Philander Smith.

Student achievements are the prestige of Philander Smith. Each student is determined to change the world, oftentimes, against all odds. Attending Philander Smith has broadened my perspectives, made me appreciate my culture and history, and to be conscious of the history and culture of others. This drove my deeper understanding of diversity as well as disparity. But if there was one thing I was surprised to learn, it is that the more you interact with other cultures, the more you understand and appreciate your own.

This realization keeps alive my appreciation for those who paved the way for me. My father, Michael Charles Carter, after working a few years within the Tourism industry in the Bahamas, decided to branch out and start his own business, Carter’s Electronics. His father, Harcourt Carter owned Carter’s Record Shop and was one of the first black businessmen to own a business on Bay Street (a predominately white business district in downtown Nassau, Bahamas). My grandmother, Mary (Mae) Heastie Carter owned her own upholstery business. With this legacy, I can confidently say, I have the knack for business in my veins.

Memories of my first entrepreneurial ventures in my grandmother Mary Hanna’s neighborhood are vivid. During my summer break, I’d employ my cousins as to supply snacks to neighborhood children. This gave me experience in marketing, merchandising, hiring and wage payment.

The business instinct was natural for me. It is an interest that continues to grow into a passion, a passion fueled by the opportunities I have received. Recently, I was selected as one of the twenty-five inaugural fellows out of hundreds of applicants for The University of California Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (SIEML) hosted by the UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business. It’s a two-year career building fellowship funded by Anthem Blue Cross and Wells Fargo, and hosted by a conglomerate of six University of California campuses: Berkeley, Irvine, Riverside, Davis, San Diego, and Los Angeles.

SIEML Class of 2012

Participating in this program provided a stimulating and rigorous experience, that I will treasure forever. SIEML provided me the unparalleled opportunity of direct access to senior corporate leaders, staff, UC Berkley faculty, take business courses, and network with my fellow HBCU peers in the program. Next year, we will complete our fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management and be awarded with a Certificate of Completion as an Emerging Manager and Leader in Business.

No matter what comes my way, I know without a doubt Philander Smith has helped to shape not only what I have to offer, but also who I am and what I believe. I, Think Justice.