Sandra Pouchet Paquet is Professor Emerita of Caribbean Studies and English Literature at the University of Miami. She immigrated from Trinidad to the United States in the 1960s to pursue higher education. Paquet’s entire interview in the Caribbean studies literary journal Small Axe Salon is worth reading for her insight into what it meant to be a woman of color and a mother in the academy at a time when there were few of either.
Sandra Paquet: Ever since leaving the Caribbean, my life has been work and family. Having family was terribly important to me. I [didn’t] care if people said, “Oh, you’re into babies now.”
SG: People said that?
SPP: “Yes. My uncle Carl would say, “You have to decide, Sandra, whether you are going to pursue an education and a professional life, or settle down and have a family. You can’t do both.” But I never envisioned life, once I met Basil, without children. Once I got started, I never envisioned giving up my own academic career, either. There’s no person I’m more sympathetic to than a student who is pregnant and trying to finish her dissertation. You just have to be very patient and prepare for the fact that it sets you back, so age-wise you won’t wonder what happened to you later on. You make choices because they’re important to you, and you need to have a ready answer to others’ questions [about them]. It wasn’t one or the other [for me]; I had to have both. I thought that made me a feminist.