Carroll was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. She moved to the United States at the age of eight. Two years after graduating from Uniondale High School in New York state, she enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1979. After serving as an Aviation Machinist Mate (Jet Mechanic), she was selected for Enlisted Commissioning Program, becoming an Aviation Maintenance Officer in 1985. She retired from the Navy in 1999 as a Lieutenant Commander. In 1981, she received an Associate of Arts degree from Leeward Community College. She followed this in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of New Mexico. She moved to Florida in 1986. She then received her Master of Business Administration degree from St. Leo University in 1991.
"I'm the first woman elected as lieutenant governor in the state of Florida. I'm the first African-American to be elected statewide, in the state in over 180 years of existence."
Tea Party Trini
Trinidadian born Jennifer Caroll is elected Florida's Lieutenant Governor
Trinidad born Jennifer Caroll made history last week.
The conservative Republican became the first black person and first woman elected Lieutenant Governor of Florida.
"I'm a true Trinidadian. A true Trini. Trini to the bone” declared Carroll, 51, the number two to new Florida governor Rick Scott, in an interview in the Trinidad Express.
But though Carroll, who moved to the US when she was 8, is proud of her Caribbean roots, some Caribbean-Americans say her victory might prove to be a defeat for them.
Tea Party ties a concern
Her Caribbean-born critics say Carroll, a businesswoman, a former US Navy mechanic and a former Florida lawmaker, has ties to the radical right wing Tea Party movement.
They are also concerned because she has said she would like to see Florida pass a tough immigration law which would give the authorities the right to arrest anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant.
“Our people didn’t vote for her, for the Republicans, so they might make us suffer” says Bevan Earle, editor of Florida’s Caribbean Voice newspaper. “Carroll is not in tune with our Caribbean community.“
But Jennifer Carroll wouldn’t agree.
She says Caribbean people are by nature Republicans and points as an example to her adoptive parents, her great aunt, a cleaner, and her great uncle, a labourer.
“I felt more in line with the Republican philosophy and principles because my parents worked very hard” she told the South Florida Times.
“My dad always told me, ‘Nobody owes you anything. You have to work through any obstacles that come your way.’”
Carroll has had her share of obstacles, both personal and political.
She was raised by relatives in the absence of her parents and she failed twice in bids to win election to the US Congress.
Still, Jennifer Carroll hopes her victory will encourage African-Americans and Caribbean-Americans to view the Republicans as a party worthy of their vote.
“When asked, they want less government control, less taxes, and less government intrusion in your life” Jennifer Caroll says of black voters, “but they are so tied to the Democratic Party."