Graduation is a long-awaited celebration with which students close a chapter of their formal education and look with excitement to the challenges of the future. Such elation was felt at BYU’s summer commencement exercises, as a total of 2,342 academic degrees were awarded. Among the graduates was Nari Carter, the first student to complete the Educational Inquiry, Measurement and Evaluation (EIME) PhD program recently inaugurated by the McKay School of Education.
An interdepartmental program, EIME focuses on training its students to conduct educational research and become experts in measurement and evaluation. Training in such areas allows researchers to determine the effectiveness of school programs and instruction. To complete this program, Carter often worked 60 to 70 hours a week. “It feels really good to do something that was so challenging and difficult,” she said. “I can honestly say that I have worked harder than I ever have in my life.”
"It feels really good to do something that was so challenging and difficult. I can honestly say that I have worked harder than I ever have in my life."
Carter never expected to be holding her PhD diploma. “When I completed my bachelor’s degree, I thought I was done with school,” said Carter of receiving an English degree from BYU in 1986. “I felt good about it and decided to move on with my life.” Carter devoted herself to raising a family and moved to California with her husband. The couple and their three children moved back to Utah in 1998.
In her free time Carter began volunteering at a local school to help children who struggled with reading. “I enjoyed tutoring because I felt I could understand how struggling children think,” she explained. Carter was first introduced to the field of special education as a young mother when her son was diagnosed with learning disabilities at the age of four. For many years, she was by his side, helping him learn. “I’m sure my experience with him prepared me for my formal education. It created a place in my heart where I’m truly concerned about children with disabilities because I know how hard it is for them to learn. I want to do what I can to improve their educational opportunities.”
Once while Carter was volunteering, a principal asked her if she had ever considered a license in special education. Carter’s interest was sparked, and in 2001 she decided to pick up her educational career at the McKay School to complete the licensure. “I love BYU,” she said. “I just keep coming back.”
After Carter had gone on to complete a master’s degree in special education, Dr. Richard Sudwicks of the Department of Instructional Psychology & Technology encouraged her to pursue a PhD through a recently developed program called EIME. “That thought stayed with me, and I kept checking to see what was happening with the program,” Carter said.
Carter believes the refinement of her research and writing skills will provide her with many opportunities in the future. “Research skills and knowing how to think scientifically can transfer to a lot of different disciplines,” she explained. Additionally, Carter enjoyed collaborating with professors in the McKay School. “They were tremendous,” she said. “The most valuable part of my learning was being mentored by and working closely with those professors on papers and research projects.”
Currently Carter continues to participate in adjunct work at BYU and also fulfill a writing contract alongside Dr. Mary Anne Prater of CPSE to create an online special education course for Pearson Education Publishing. With her PhD in hand, Carter has some future projects in mind, including several book ideas she would like to pursue. “I think I’m going to rest for a week or two, and then try and figure out the career,” she said.
5 August 2011