As another semester ends, we would like to shine a spotlight on our very own Ms. Wanda Carter. Ms. Wanda has been with the Center for the past 16 years and was recently recognized by the University of Florida with a Superior Accomplishment Award.
June 7, 2018 — Patricia Alba
As of this year, Ms. Wanda has worked for the state for 27 years. Prior to joining the University of Florida, she worked as a secretary for the Adoptions and Related Services and Foster Care Unit. In her position, she was in charge of moving abused children to different foster homes. “I just couldn’t understand how anyone could abuse a child in such a way,” Ms. Wanda says as she recalls the different cases she worked. Eventually, it was the emotional turmoil associated with the job that led Ms. Wanda to her first position at the University of Florida.
Her journey as a UF employee started back in 1998 when she began working with newly admitted students at the Vet School before transferring to UF Animal Care Services. “My children adopted many rabbits and dogs while I worked there," she says with a smile. But the work had many challenges, which led Ms. Wanda to apply for a position at the Center for Latin American Studies.
It was in 2001 when she joined the Center as the secretary for the Tropical Conservation and Development program, which at that time was under the leadership of Dr. Marianne Schmink. Within two years she was promoted to her current position as the Center’s Program Assistant. In her position, she works with students from the moment they are admitted to the program until they graduate.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at the Center, and I’ve enjoyed the students and the people that I’ve worked with. It’s really been wonderful.”
When asked about any notable moment she’s had while working with students, she recalls the time a student attended the wrong course for the entire semester. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says laughing. “He sat there week after week, knowing he was in the wrong class and didn’t say anything until the very end!”
In the 16 years she has been with the Center, Ms. Wanda remembers the thousands of students that have stepped into her office; many of them looking for help with their assistantships, course schedules, certificates and more. “When I first meet them, I try to put a name to every face and always try to greet them in the hallways.” In particular, she holds a special place for international students. “I think it’s awesome that they come to UF to study, and then take back the skills they learned to help their communities.” She fondly remembers pictures she received from former students, showing the work they are doing within schools, helping with infrastructure projects in their communities, or working with conservation initiatives.
While the majority of the people Ms. Wanda worked with back in 2001 have retired, she has no plans to leave just yet. “I’ve enjoyed my time at the Center, and I’ve enjoyed the students and the people that I’ve worked with. It’s really been wonderful.”
From all of us at the Center for Latin American Studies, thank you for all your hard work, Ms. Wanda!