PORT ARTHUR, Texas — "If you can make a difference for one child, you've done good." These are the words of Annie Carter, a trailblazer who is using her experience to knock down barriers and inspire the next generation of engineers in Southeast Texas.
Carter is a civil engineer who retired after 30 years at Chevron Phillips.
"From a little kid, I pretty much knew I was going into science,” Carter said
Not only is Carter a scientist, leader, creator and trailblazer, she is also walking history. In 1980, she became the first African American woman to earn a bachelor of science in civil engineering at Texas A&M University.
After graduating, Carter would go to earn a job at Gulf in Port Arthur, and from there, climb the ladder at Chevron Phillips.
“If you're in a career, where it's dominated by one gender or the other, it's sort of how you handle it,” Carter said.
Carter started in maintenance before becoming a manager and eventually lead teams on multi-million dollar projects.
“Being accountable, and delivering a good product, and I found that people would just, it didn't matter, whether you were a female, or your ethnic background, if you could deliver on your work, you got the jobs," Carter said.
While she has since retired, her work is far from over. She now serves as the chair of Golden Triangle’s Texas Alliance for Minorites in Engineering, showing the youth that their race or gender should not define their dreams and aspirations.
“There's nothing about engineering, or science, or technology that says it's a male career,” Carter said. “We program ourselves. We program our children to think it is, but I was 100 percent comfortable working in that area."
To Carter, some of her most meaningful works have not been in refineries or chemical plants, but in classrooms and convention centers. For more than 30 years, she has worked with the Golden Triangle chapter of TAME.
"Mainly because there are not enough children who are first-generation children of color, females, who feel comfortable in the workspace,” Carter said. “So if they get introduced to it, hopefully at an early age, then it knocks down a lot of barriers."
TAME teaches minority students science, technology, engineering, and math in fun ways. The lessons inspire and prepare.
"Again, for me, it's just what I do,” Carter said. “It's so important to help close that gap."
Carter feels that she has made a difference for thousands of children.
“We interview them for jobs,” Carter said. “You say wow they've come full circle when you see them as professors on college campuses when you see them owners of businesses, and so you begin to check off those boxes, yes, you made a difference."
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