An Alcornite is making history with his latest career move at L’Oreal.
Dr. Chavez Carter, who earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Alcorn State University in 2006 and 2008, is the first person to be named the director of Medical Relations for L’Oreal’s La Roche-Posay USA Division.
La Roche-Posay, which is L’Oreal’s medical dermatology division, is the No. 1 dermo-cosmetic brand worldwide, recommended by 90,000 dermatologists. Driven by their values of courage, commitment, and love, the company partners with dermatologists and experts to design innovative skincare solutions for the most fragile skin.
In his role, Carter is responsible for positioning La Roche-Posay within the medical community and amongst key opinion leaders in dermatology as the leading medical skincare brand on the market. He is also tasked with elevating La Roche-Posay and individual products' value and growing the brand into a wider circle of medical partners and offices.
Becoming the first to hold the position at L’Oreal is special for Carter because of the company’s effort to recruit talented minorities to be leaders within the company. L’Oreal and La Roche-Posay’s commitment to hiring diverse leadership is what attracted Carter to the company.
“I am elated to have been selected out of a pool of talented pharma professionals,” said Carter. “I do think that it speaks to the direction of more inclusiveness and diversity for the industry as a whole. This past year has been a wake-up call to many different industries as it relates to diversity and black representation in particular. I am personally glad that L’Oreal and La Roche-Posay had a solid commitment ahead of the curve. They were addressing topics such as the lack of studies in the skin of color communities very early, and it is the type of work that attracted me to the company.”
This new career phase that Carter has entered plays to his strengths as a scientist and as a networker. The job allows him to flourish among other scientists, where he soaks in knowledge and uses it to uplift others. These are all reasons why getting the news of his new appointment was one of his career highlights.
“I was excited to begin a new chapter in my career. I have been a medical science liaison for most of my time in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s like a dream job for someone like myself that is a trained scientist and social. I get the opportunity to engage with some of the top scientific minds in the country and then take that knowledge and help formulate strategies that could affect patients all over the country. This new position gives me those same engagement points and more accountability for the strategies that will be developed in the future. I also get the opportunity to work directly with the marketing and commercial departments to help with alignment.”
Carter isn’t the first person in his family to be selected as a historic hire. In 2000, his father, the late Charles Carter, was the first Black person to be elected as mayor in Summit, Mississippi. Carter is proud to carry on his father’s legacy in the scientific realm.
“I am following a legacy of history makers. My father was the first black mayor of Summit, Mississippi, and in Pike County. I try my best to understand the importance that comes with it. There is still a long way to go in our society. I try to do my best when given the opportunity and let my work do the talking for me.”
When his father died of cancer after Carter earned his bachelor’s degree, his curiosity led him on a journey where he would research how the human body can defend itself against diseases. It was on this path where Carter fell in love with scientific research.
“I love learning, and science is the best career for curious people. I was compelled to learn more about immunology after my father passed away from renal cell carcinoma. At the time, I had just finished my undergraduate years. I had good grades and research experience but didn’t know much about cancer. So, I went on a journey to learn more. I took immunology, which is the study of the body’s defense against disease and other outside bacteria, viruses, and pathogens, and decided to follow my curiosity. The cool thing about science is there’s always more to learn.”
The scientific field has plenty of career opportunities waiting to be filled, according to Carter. He hopes to inspire up-and-coming Black scientists to search for those positions and make a name for themselves in the field.
“There are some interesting and exciting careers in science that many of us have never heard of. If someone would’ve told me that I’d be in medical relations when I was a student, I’d probably ask, ‘What’s that?’ By being visible to younger Black scientists, I hope they can begin to see themselves in these positions. You can be yourself and still achieve a high level of success.”
As young scientists progress in the field, Carter advises them always to seek counsel from their mentors.
“I’d remind them that none of us got to where we are alone. I’ve been blessed with amazing mentors throughout my career. I still have mentors and advisors that I counsel with to this day. Surround yourself with people that challenge you to do better, work harder, and think differently than you. Growth isn’t always easy, but it is necessary. Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out to people in positions you want to be in. The beauty of going to an HBCU is the legacy and network you are exposed to. Use it.”
Ascending to a new level made Carter reflect on his early days and how science became his passion. He credits his hard-working professors at Alcorn for introducing him to the field that would change his life for the better. He appreciates his time at Alcorn for preparing him to have a successful career.
“Without Alcorn, I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am today. The professors challenged me to reach my full potential. They exposed me to different career paths and gave me the confidence to go anywhere and succeed. When I was looking for a summer job because I had a baby on the way, Dr. Voletta Williams took a chance on me and exposed me to research. I was able to apply many of the concepts I’ve learned in the classroom and laboratories to actual projects.
“I’ve attended huge state and Ivy League universities, but my foundation has always been rooted in the lessons I learned at Alcorn.”