TCF Recipient Carter Eaton

2023 Carl H. Marrs Excellence Award Spotlight

By Rachael Fisher, TCF Communications Manager

Welcome to The CIRI Foundation’s ‘TCF Recipient Spotlight’ series. Join us as we proudly celebrate the extraordinary journeys of our scholarship and vocational training grant recipients. These individuals exemplify the heights of academic achievement and the strength of community support. Their stories reflect our core values and embody TCF’s mission: nurturing educational excellence and self-sufficiency within our diverse alum community.

TCF Recipient Carter Eaton
When Carter first set foot at Arizona State University four years ago, he thought it would be a seamless transition from high school. Little did he know that his initial course, Engineering 101, would act as a catalyst in terms of academic rigor and sparking a newfound love for learning and problem-solving. The complexity and depth of his industrial engineering courses solidified this passion, catapulting him into a league where he relished intellectual challenges.

Turning the Tide for ASU Waterski Team

Carter’s enthusiasm is not limited to academics; it spilled over into his passion for waterskiing. As he rose through the ranks to become the president of the ASU Waterski team, he saw an opportunity to effect real change.

Waterskiing in a dry suit back home 2013, taken from a GoPro on the ski. Photo courtesy of Carter Eaton.

“We were showing up to nationals in rented airport shuttle buses, without a coach, and parking next to teams in full tracksuits unloading a Greyhound bus with their school logo on it,” Carter said.

Faced with limited funding and competing against fully-backed athletic programs, the scenario became even more daunting during the pandemic. Undeterred, Carter and the team launched a transformative journey. Adopting a business-savvy approach, the team transitioned into a registered nonprofit and started a series of innovative fundraising campaigns. These ranged from hosting “Chipotle Nights” to negotiating sponsorships with local businesses.

The result? Enough funds to help the team rewrite history, becoming the first club team to earn a podium finish at the nationals.

Photo courtesy of Carter Eaton.

“With enough cash flow to support proper facilities and a brand new boat, we were able to recruit the best junior skiers in the world,  persuading them to join our team instead of accepting scholarships elsewhere,” Carter said.

The Power of Community Support

Carter’s leadership journey went beyond mastering waterski techniques or securing funding. It was about nurturing a culture of empowerment and realizing the transformative power of collective effort.

“I learned to listen to those around me and enable them to achieve their full potential, and I discovered the limits of my own capabilities and the necessity of collective effort,” Carter said.

And his educational journey isn’t just a personal victory; it’s a testament to what we accomplish when a community comes together to support one of its own. Before Carter could fully grasp the extent of his capabilities, TCF was investing in his potential. As he gears up for his next adventure, Carter is grateful for a community that believed in him from day one.

“Without your support, attending college likely would have remained a dream. I am honored to have been given this opportunity by my own people. From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” Carter said.


CIRI Original Shareholder Vera Roberts, grandmother to TCF Recipient Carter Eaton.      Photo courtesy of Carter Eaton.

We at The CIRI Foundation take pride in playing a role in Carter’s educational journey, and we can’t wait to see where he goes next. He leaves a legacy of achievement and a narrative to inspire future recipients to aim for the stars.


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