Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll shares story, advice with students

Dargan Thompson

By: Dargan Thompson, Assistant Features Editor

 

(Photo by Joseph Basco)

Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll spoke at UNF Feb. 24 for the African American Student Union’s Black History Month Keynote.

 

The state’s 18th lieutenant governor spoke about the importance of hard work and the difficulties she has personally overcome. She encouraged those in the audience, particularly the young women, to push through adversity and keep working hard.

 

“‘Can’t’ should not be in your vocabulary,” Carroll said.

 

As the first female Lt. Gov. in Florida, and the first African-American elected statewide, Carroll knows about overcoming adversity. She spoke about how there is still a glass ceiling for women, but it is not an excuse to give up.

 

“As you do your work, the excellence of your work will speak for itself,” Carroll said.

 

Carroll said she sees her role as the first woman and African-American in her position as an opportunity to share with others that they can do anything. Anybody can look at her office and see that they, too, could accomplish what she has, Carroll said. She has paved the road for them.

 

“You don’t need to recreate that paved road,” she said, “just travel it, and travel it well.”

 

Carroll lived in Jacksonville for several years. All three of her children were born in the city, she said, and though she has lived in several places, Jacksonville is the place she has called home the longest.

 

Carroll said she was proud to see the growth on UNF’s campus and was honored to be given the opportunity to address the students.

 

Stanford D. Taylor, coordinator of the African-American Student Union at UNF, said the AASU asked Carroll to come speak because she epitomizes this year’s Black History Month theme, Black Women in History and the Arts.

 

Carroll was also a good choice for a speaker, Taylor said, because she did not take a traditional path to get to where she is today.

 

“She’s not just a one-sided individual,” he said. “She’s multifaceted, and she has that much insight to give out to other people.”

 

The low turnout to the event disappointed Carroll. Taylor said everyone should be interested in Carroll’s input because the decisions she helps make affect everyone.

 

“The room shouldn’t have been packed, the campus should have been packed with people trying to hear exactly what she had to say,” Taylor said.

 

Oupa Seane, the director of the Intercultural Center for PEACE, said he was proud of the students from the AASU for inviting Carroll to speak. Last year, they invited Dr. Michael Dyson, who has a more liberal viewpoint, so this is a good balance of ideas, Seane said.

 

He thought Carroll’s speech was encouraging for the students.

 

“It was interesting to see how she came from nowhere, and today she’s the second highest ranking official in the state of Florida,” he said.

 

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