Ywanda Carter’s mother believed that an education was good to have, as long as a girl backed it up with useful skills she could “do with her hands.”
So in addition to completing a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, Carter followed mom’s advice, taking night courses in shorthand, dictation and business support services.
She was fast on the keys, striking out 60 to 65 words per minute on her typing test, made challenging by the heavy return carriage that required a manual slap at the end of each line.
“You tried to be perfect,” Carter said, laughing, “because fixing an error with correction ribbon could be a real mess.”
Carter had plans to become a teacher, but life, as it turned out, had other ideas.
She applied with the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) but instead found her way to administrative work at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, long before there was a UNT Health Science Center on the horizon.
Camp Bowie Boulevard, Montgomery, Seventh Street, University Drive and surrounding neighborhoods looked quite different in 1976.
A renovated bowling alley on Camp Bowie housed the early TCOM classrooms, basic science laboratories and related administrative offices.
Carter’s office, too, was in a renovated space, on the site of a previous hotel at the Camp Bowie and Montgomery intersection.
That location is now the UNTHSC Education and Administration (EAD) building, where she still works.
Many transformations have taken place over the last four decades, including Carter’s move to the UNTHSC School of Public Health around 2004, where she will celebrate her upcoming retirement at the end of this year as the university’s longest-serving staff member.
As SPH Senior Administrative Associate, Carter has worked with faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members, and in the early days before the School of Public Health, she also interacted with physicians, nurses and others who served patients at the old Fort Worth Osteopathic Hospital.
Doing her job is a lot easier today, thanks to computers, email, voicemail, internet and other modern conveniences.
“Back then, you had to walk to different offices for signatures on a memo. There were no fax machines or scanners. We worked with carbon paper for copies and typed envelopes one by one,” Carter said. “I remember being in absolute heaven when liquid paper came out in different colors.”
In those days, Carter said, if you needed to know something, you had to look it up in an old-school dictionary or make a trip to the library. She liked spending time there, ultimately deciding to pursue a master’s degree in information science at UNT Denton.
“I did my practicum here at the Gibson D. Lewis Library in the late 90s as a part- time indexer for a grant project of the American Osteopathic Association,” she said, “developing a database of osteopathic books and articles going back to the 1940s and 50s.”
The mind of a teacher is always inquisitive, which may explain why Carter was drawn to library research and why she finds it so interesting nowadays to “be able to look up just about anything online.”
Has she ever missed teaching?
“About a year after I started working for UNTHSC, the FWISD called about another opportunity, but by then I had found that I really liked the people here, the 8-to-5 work schedule and not having to take papers home to grade on weekends,” Carter said.
So she has stayed the course at UNTHSC for 43 years, finding different ways to mentor young minds through her volunteer service with the FWISD Reading Partnership Program and other organizations.
With retirement coming soon, she’s excited about moving into a new chapter of life with her husband and family.
While she calls herself “essentially a homebody who plans to enjoy doing nothing for a while,” Carter will be continuing her volunteer work with the schools, her church and the Center for Transforming Lives, a local organization providing hope, help and homes to families in crisis.
“The longer I live, the happier I am. I’m in a good place right now,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to be 20 again, or 30, 40 or 50. At this moment, things feel very good.”