Education surely has inspired Tanya Carter, who got her start at Moraine Valley and has dedicated her life to educating herself and others during her 20-plus-year career.

“I was 17 when I began at Moraine Valley and quickly learned how to navigate systems and interact with a range of individuals,” said Carter, who was born in Waukegan and later moved into the college’s district. “I learned how to manage time, prioritize and interact with lots of people.”

Carter has earned numerous degrees, including an Associate in Arts from Moraine Valley in 1991, a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Governors State University, two education-focused master’s degrees and a Doctor of Education in educational leadership from Northern Illinois University.

She transitioned from student to teacher as a general education instructor in 1994 and has held various positions in special education as a teacher and administrator in several Chicago-area school districts. Today, she is the executive director of human resources for Lansing Elementary School District 158, a position she assumed in 2021. Prior to that, she was the executive director of Student Services, the principal at Lester Crawl Primary Center and the director of Special Education at JS Morton High Schools.

“Education is more than teaching,” Carter said. “It impacts everyone – students, parents, teachers, business owners, food distributers, paper manufactures, computer companies – and the list goes on.”

While a student at Moraine Valley, Carter recalls a psychology professor and a math professor who were especially inspiring to her. The math teacher encouraged her to choose mathematics as her minor.

“When I counsel high school students about their career and education paths, I encourage them to attend community college,” she said. “Moraine Valley gives students the opportunity to try new things and explore options without taking on excessive debt.”

Carter and her husband, Dan Racan, are parents of Carter, age 9. A 1-year-old mutt named Max, whom she described as “crazy,” recently joined their family, which enjoys camping and has done so in 14 states with a goal to set up camp in all 50 states. She loves to travel and has been to the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico and Canada. Always a student, she studied Spanish for a summer while visiting Spain.

“I live to see students and teachers succeed,” Carter said. “Knowing I am making a difference in the lives of students is gratifying. Watching a student who has struggled have a breakthrough is unbelievably rewarding.”