December 15, 2008 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
“If I can make it, you can make it,” longtime NY1 political news anchor Dominic Carter enthusiastically told more than 150 BMCC students in Theatre 1 this fall, stirring them to rounds of applause.
Carter’s visit was part of the annual convocation for students in the College Discovery (CD) program. Designed to give financially and educationally disadvantaged students a chance at success in higher education, the program provides selected student with money for books, fees, counseling, and tutorial services. Carter himself was the perfect speaker, a product of a broken household in the projects of the Bronx.
Before Carter took the stage, BMCC President Antonio Pérez told the College Discovery students that he considered them “heroes” because of their “sacrifice and commitment to be a BMCC student.” “When things are getting tough, don’t forget your dreams,” Perez said. “Continue to be winners. Keep on with your dreams and stay committed.”
No Momma’s Boy
Carter says his mother was clinically diagnosed as a “chronic paranoid schizophrenic,” but Carter remained in her care, making for a tough upbringing. In his recently released memoir, No Momma’s Boy — copies of which were given out for free after the event — Carter describes the difficulty of trying to be successful considering the troubled relationship with his mother.
“I was once you,” he said, recalling his days in that household, trying his hardest to get an education and make something of himself despite the challenges. During his speech, he recalled one specific experience that became a turning point in his life: the day his high school guidance counselor told Carter he shouldn’t bother applying to colleges because he’d probably end up dead or in jail.
That man “might as well have printed my college degree on that day,” Carter said. “You have to turn negatives into positives. Never listen to the naysayers. They don’t know you. You can do anything.”
Education, as Carter sees it, is the one way to succeed in life. He went to the State University of New York at Cortland, where he received a B.A. in journalism, then attended graduate school at Syracuse University’s highly rated S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, before starting his career in the news broadcasting.
Like a Train
“The key to making it in college and life is this,” Carter said, putting his arms at his side and chanting “Chug-a-chug-a.”
If those in the crowd couldn’t figure it out, Carter let them in on it: “It’s a train. You guys are that train. Can all of us combined stop a train? No. But you can stop yourself. If you decide here today you want to be a doctor, you can do it. And the only one who can stop you is you.”
“It does not matter in life where you start,” he said, “but where you’re going. Whatever your goal is in life, you can do it. Remember that.”
Carter who has been at NY1 since its inception in 1992, is the anchor of the channel’s news and commentary program, Inside City Hall, which focuses on New York City politics. But it was as a radio reporter that his career got a huge kickstart: Carter was the only one of thousands of journalists to score an exclusive interview with Nelson Mandela during the South African president’s historic visit to the United States.