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TaLisa J. Carter Awarded her doctorate in Sociology

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TaLisa J. Carter (second from left) was awarded her doctoral degree by College of Arts and Sciences Dean George Watson (left), Carter’s adviser, Prof. Karen Parker, and UD President Dennis Assanis at Friday’s Doctoral Hooding Convocation on The Green.

​TaLisa J. Carter (second from left) was awarded her doctoral degree by College of Arts and Sciences Dean George Watson (left), Carter’s adviser, Prof. Karen Parker, and UD President Dennis Assanis at Friday’s Doctoral Hooding Convocation on The Green.

"Somewhere along the line, each of these new graduates had to resolve significant challenges and keep going.

'Unstoppable' seems a good description of TaLisa J. Carter, who earned her doctorate in criminology.

After earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, her plans were abruptly changed by a fire. Carter was forced to move back home with her parents, who live in Savannah, Georgia. She applied for jobs there and wound up as a correctional officer. That gave her deep insight into the criminal justice system, but also presented new challenges.

'The transition from jail to graduate school was not an easy one,' she said. 'Your voice changes in jail. The presence that came with jail was not easy to shed. But in terms of research, I bring credibility to what I do now that has really helped.'

In her dissertation, Carter explored how racial and ethnic disparities are perpetuated in the criminal justice system, focusing on patterns of accountability within prisons. She shadowed cadets who were learning the system to see how they were praised or punished.

'The results are epic,' she wrote in her personal remarks for the hooding ceremony. 'Hint: Race matters. Read more in an upcoming publication.'

Carter plans to work on that publication as a postdoctoral fellow at American University.

Many family members were present to witness her hooding.

'It means a lot,' said her mother, Jacqueline Carter. 'She has plenty of drive and determination. She hung in there and succeeded. I’ve always told her to put God first — in the good, the bad, the ugly and the indifferent. Put him first and just push through.'

Now Carter has the credentials and the knowledge needed to work for change in meaningful ways. She brings not just opinion, but data, analytical expertise and insight.

'The importance of scientific evidence to policy dealing with social problems is so great,' said her adviser, Prof. Karen Parker. 'Each graduate today will do that. And the work they’re doing — so many of them — is groundbreaking.' " - an excert from the UDaily article UD Confers Record Number of Doctorates.

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