Carlton Walker ’10 radiates loyalty and passion for Colgate and its students. In just more than a decade since graduation, he has served on the Alumni Council and the Maroon Council, and he was recently confirmed as a member of the Board of Trustees. A Presidents’ Club member since 2014, Carlton made his first gift to Colgate as a senior and has not missed a year since. Below, Carlton discusses his Colgate experience and hopes for the future of the University.
How did you find your way to Colgate?
My guidance counselor and I were looking for a college with high-level academics where I could be recruited to play football. My father, who was an avid Princeton review reader, spoke up in that conversation and asked if I would go visit Colgate. It made it on the list. We sent highlight tapes to dozens of schools, and Colgate was the first to call me back. I’ll never forget answering the phone when the coach called and invited me to campus. I went, and it was the only campus I needed to see.
Tell us about your Colgate experience.
Colgate means a lot to me. I had a wonderful experience and was involved in a variety of activities. But being a sociology major was huge for me — which is funny because I always made fun of my older sister for studying sociology. But then I became hooked during a class in my freshman year and, now that I’m in sales, I am able to take a lot of that into my understanding of how the world works and why people are the way they are. It gives me more empathy and helps me find ways to influence decisions.
How has being a part of Colgate athletics impacted you?
Being a student-athlete taught me about hard work, organizational skills, and accountability to my teammates. That is a lesson I carry with me even today: if you say you’re going to do something, you do it. Football was humbling — you don’t win every game, even if you win lots of games — and it also gave me determination. Coming into football, nothing was promised, but through hard work, I was able to start a couple of games in my first year, a huge opportunity for which I’m still thankful. Football also gave me the chance to meet other alumni and realize I was part of a broader Colgate family. It showed me there’s a bigger picture and that giving a little of your time and resources can go a long way in the lives of others. I experienced it myself.
What inspires you to give to Colgate?
Colgate gave me insight and skills that have helped me succeed in life and my career, which gives me resources to do the things I want, including giving back to the University I love. So it’s all come full circle. When it comes to giving, there is so much good going on at Colgate that we all can find an initiative that means something to us. Being an alumnus of color and understanding what access means for diversity, it is a no-brainer for me to give to the Colgate Commitment and support the Third-Century Plan, among other things I care about.
Why have you chosen to belong to the Presidents’ Club?
Someone told me in my senior year that I could make a $13 donation and become a member of the Presidents’ Club. I would love to say I was inspired but, honestly, it just felt like the sensible thing to do. I spend money on way worse things — why wouldn’t I give the $100, $200, $1,000 back to Colgate and become part of a group that will help me create connections with other alumni? Now, though, it is a pleasure of mine to give every year to Colgate.
How do you feel about being newly appointed to the Colgate Board of Trustees?
I still can’t believe that’s true, and I’m so grateful. I had made a goal that, one day, I would be in a position to change Colgate for the better. I didn’t think it would happen this quickly. I was very content with the work I was doing on the Alumni Council. But when I was contacted about it and considered accepting, I realized the important impact that I could make in the next decade, as a diverse individual on the board. I believe this is the right moment for me to join, and I feel very blessed.
What kind of impact do you hope to have at Colgate?
I am particularly excited about anything that has to do with accessibility. I want to be a part of helping the Colgate community understand why being more accessible and having more diverse students, faculty, and staff are ways to make this special place even better.
What is one thing you would like to tell fellow alumni, families, and friends?
I really want to encourage people to find ways to get involved. Every single individual has something to give to Colgate that can enrich the life of a current student, whether it’s financial resources, time, or talents. So get in contact and get involved.