‘You’ve got gifts’ -- MSU’s most senior grad earns third doctorate

Three doctors, a priest, an Emmy-winning journalist, an explorer and a recent college grad entered a room. Then, she talked to Ann Emmerich.
Life-long learner gains third doctorate
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 12:10 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Years of studying, writing papers and late nights culminate in a day of caps, gowns and speeches, all for one degree. Then school becomes a memory, for most.

Among the 9,200 students who will receive diplomas from Michigan State University this weekend is one who stands out in the crowd.

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For Sue Carter, decades spent on the Michigan State campus have now led to her third doctoral degree.

“I was blessed with great curiosity and a desire to know a lot of things and to learn about the world,” she said.

Carter, 71, is the most senior of the graduating class of 2022.

“Age is a number only to the body, perhaps less so to the mind,” Dr. Carter said.

Dr. Carter, who spent years at the head of the lecture hall as a journalism professor, is a student once more. This weekend, she’s receiving her doctorate in 12th century history.

“I just devour information and appreciate it and like to share it,” she said.

Carter is now a priest in the Episcopal church. It’s a later in life career change for a woman who spent her life breaking barriers.

“To those whom much is given, much is required,” she said. “I’ve been blessed with a good life, a good mind, capabilities, resources. And so, it’s important to pass that on.”

The three-time Emmy award winner spent 17 years as a TV and radio journalist, before going on to teach.

It’s a career that earned her a spot in the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, and a profession that she says is important for a free democracy.

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“It is important because we need truth tellers, we need people out there who are working hard,” Dr. Carter said. “For example, [people] in Ukraine right now who are developing information who are telling stories who help us understand what’s going on.”

Carter also served as Press Secretary for former Michigan Governor James Blanchard.

She’s spent much of her life challenging herself and pushing boundaries, like when she led an all-woman skiing expedition to the north pole.

“I think I learned about myself endurance and perseverance,” Dr. Carter said. “Those are important things especially when one is pushing oneself pretty hard.”

Carter has dedicated much of her life to service toward others as a journalist, educator and lawyer. Now, she focuses on her ministry and spreading a message of loving thy neighbor.

“First Corinthians 13,” Dr. Carter said. “It talks about love. It talks about the various traits and characteristics, but the faith hope charity is how people often characterize it but the greatest of these is love.”

And while she may be a little older, her hair a little grayer, Dr. Carter has advice for her fellow college graduates.

“You’re among the very fortunate,” she said. “You’ve got gifts. Use them. Use them wisely. Use them well.”


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