Inspired by faith, graduate student uses education to serve others
When he graduates in spring 2011 with a master’s degree in civil engineering, Timothy Carter will embark on a different path than most other engineers. The WSU student plans to use his engineering education to aid people in developing and impoverished countries, as he has done in Cameroon, Kenya and Haiti.
Carter says his faith inspires him to use his talents to help others. “It really just kills me to see all the suffering in the world. I thought, ‘This is how I could use my talents: to serve God, help people.’”
A non-denominational Christian, Carter attended Hope College in Holland, Mich. as a mechanical engineering undergraduate and got involved with Engineers Without Borders, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that partners with developing communities to improve their quality of life through the implementation of sustainable engineering projects. Carter worked on a project to design a water distribution system for a village in Cameroon and traveled there twice to actually build the system.
Wanting to do more, Carter got involved last summer with Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational Christian relief organization, working on various water filtering projects in Kenya. He was there for five months after graduating from Hope College and says that he learned an important lesson from living in a developing country for an extended period of time. ”I never have a reason to complain,” says Carter. “The people of Kenya — and Africa as a whole — have absolutely nothing by American standards, and yet they are so happy.”
After Haiti was struck with a devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010, Samaritan’s Purse contacted Carter about volunteering again for emergency relief.
He arrived in Port-au-Prince the third week of March, during Wayne State’s spring break, and stayed on an additional week, missing classes. He mainly worked designing and constructing latrines for people who had lost their homes, but he also helped build temporary shelters and distribute food in Cité Soleil, an informal settlement in Port-au-Prince known as one of the most dangerous and destitute places in the Western Hemisphere.
“It was something I had never seen before in my life,” says Carter. “It was a disaster. The people of Haiti – I can’t imagine what that does to you psychologically. So many people lost family members, entire houses destroyed, lost everything. It’s incredible suffering.”
Carter says that the experience of working in Haiti will never leave him, and that it has convinced him even further that he has a calling.
“I’m already planning as soon as I finish my master’s degree to return to Haiti or Africa or a third world country and continue water projects,” says Carter. “I want to use my education to help people who are suffering and serve God.”