BY GREGORY A. WHITE
Many things define Judy H. Carter other then being a speech professor and Honors Program coordinator at Amarillo College.
She is a mother, art enthusiast, traveler, former actress and theater teacher.
Carter talked about working at an art museum for fun.
“I’m a docent with the Amarillo Museum of Art, which means I just get to go over to the museum and when visitors come, I get to tell them stories about the artist and the work that’s there, and that’s really fun,” she said.
Carter said she’s taught speech at Amarillo College since 1992. She holds the academic rank of professor and is coordinator of the Honors Program, part of which contains the Presidential Scholars Program.
According to an AC website, Carter earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and theater from Southern Utah State College and a master’s in speech from West Texas State University.
Blonde and wearing rectangular, black-framed glasses with a gray sweater and a silver bracelet on her left wrist, Carter said she loves to read.
“I prefer mysteries or espionage-type escapist literature,” she said, distinctly pronouncing “espionage.”
Carter said she also enjoys traveling. “It doesn’t have to be worldwide travel,” she said. She described a recent trip to the restored Charles Goodnight house at Goodnight, Texas, just outside of Claude.
Tracing her right index finger over her large brown desk, Carter talked about a state-by-state trip with friends. “I liked going with friends to New York and then winding our way back through Hannibal (Missouri) and hearing a storyteller tell about experiences with Mark Twain and just working our way back home,” she said.
A graduate of Provo High School in Utah, Carter said she became interested in speech early in high school. Provo is about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City.
“When I was in 10th grade, I was in a speech class and had an enjoyable time,” she recalled. “The instructor said, ‘You know, Judy, the place you really belong is theater.”
Taking theater classes the next year, she worked with a professor, Ray Jones. She said he was remarkable. “He allowed me to do a lot of things,” she said.
Carter said Jones allowed her to direct plays as well as work with plays while taking his classes. She said that at Jones’ recommendation, she worked as an acting apprentice for the Utah Shakespeare Festival between her junior and senior years.
Because the Shakespeare festival also was home to then Southern Utah State College, Carter said it was only natural for her to attend school there. After five years working at the festival and graduation, Carter started graduate work at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Part of her graduate work was paying for classes by working during the summer.
“The work that looked appealing to us was to work with the Texas musical drama down at Palo Duro Canyon,” she said. “So we came to work with Texas.”
Texas didn’t pay enough to live on, much less save for college costs, so she and others got jobs and stayed, she said.
Finding work at Amarillo High School, she taught English, speech and theater the first two years out of 20. She also taught debate. During her last 14 years, Carter also taught theater, later serving as department chairwoman.
As she grew busy teaching theater, her daughter, Michal, simply grew. “As she was approaching the middle school years, I was thinking, she doesn’t have much of a life,” Carter said, laughing. “And at that time, a speech position came open at Amarillo College.”
She said Michal now holds a doctorate in microbiology, is married to a resident physician in Virginia and has two little girls.
Thinking on an interesting fact about herself, Carter laughed. “In 20 years of teaching (at AC), there probably has not been more than one day in my life that I did not want to come to work,” she said. “I have been happy coming to work every single day.”
Amarillo has helped Carter see the sun daily. “Provo is surrounded by four mountains,” she said, laughing. “It’s in a pocket, and there are mountains all the way around it. Ah, very big, rocky mountains.” Amarillo does not have the grandeur of mountains, she said.
“In Provo, I had to watch the sun claw its way up over the mountains,” she said. “Amarillo has the grandeur of 360-degree sunrises.”
“I’m an early riser,” she said. “I do much better early in the morning. My mind turns to mush somewhere around 9:30.
“Students would often ask me how many cups of coffee I’d had, because I’d come in so wired and ready to go.”
Carter said that she does not drink coffee. “That’s not the answer,” she said. “The answer is I’m a morning person.”
I am a former student of Judy’s, back in my 5th grade year at Amarillo Little Theater, and again in my sophomore year of high school. She has such a loving soul and enjoys passing her love of theater to all her students. It was due to that love, that I became a Peter Piper Player in my 7th grade year at Amarillo Little Theater for several years. Judy will always hold a special place in my heart.