Know Who You Are!
Updated: Oct 29, 2022
Know Who You Are!
Written by: Bijoux Augustin-Abellard & Kathia JB Pierre
Photographed by: Lily Photography
“To be free, you must know yourself, who you are, where you came from, and where you are headed.”
Dr. Carole M. Berotte Joseph
During the Duvalier dictatorship era, life in Haiti was a turmoil for many citizens. As a result, many fled the country to escape the constant state of political unrest, among them the Berotte family. Although Dr. Carole M. Berotte Joseph was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, she was raised in Brooklyn, NY.
Dr. Berotte knew she wanted to be an educator at a young age, “Teaching is my passion,” she stated. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Education, her Master’s in Bilingual Education & Curriculum Development, and her Ph.D. in Bilingual Education and Sociolinguistics. Dr. Berotte worked in Academia until her retirement in 2015.
Dr. Berotte spearheaded many educational-based programs in the Haitian Community in the states. For example, she pioneered the Haitian Parent and Teacher Training Program (HAPTT), the first Bilingual Haitian Creole and English program at the City College of New York, preparing teachers to instruct effectively in Haitian Creole. Today, we can credit Dr. Berotte for her role and contribution to developing the Creole Bilingual Teacher Education Curriculum.
Dr. Berotte became involved in the educational system in Haiti. She collaborated with the Haitian Ministry of Education to launch and direct an educational project called “Ann Ale.” USAID funded this project to work with 300 schools providing teacher training and developing didactic materials in Haitian Creole.
Dr. Berotte’s involvement in the community doesn’t stop in Academia. She was one of the founding members of the Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP), a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the Haitian and Caribbean community in Queens, NY, for the last forty-seven (47) years. She’s currently a Board member of Ayiti Community Trust, whose goal is to build a sustainable Haiti. In addition, she recently volunteered with the Houston Haitians United during the Haitian Migrant crisis in Texas.
Dr. Berotte faced multiple challenges during her career. She was the first person of Haitian descent to be named a college president in the US in 2005. However, keeping to her values, being herself, and acting on what she believes to be just, were the most challenging elements of her journey.” It is lonely at the top,” said Dr. Berotte, and you must remain grounded to be successful. However, she believes if you’re comfortable within your skin, you can wholly and authentically give to others.
These days, Dr. Berotte spends most of her time in her office curating and discussing ways to help the universities in Haiti. The objective is to mirror the educational model that community colleges in the United States use within their curricula to create jobs and retain talents in the country.
Her heroic leadership efforts in Academia, her zeal to uphold Haitian Culture and develop the Haitian Creole language, and her more than forty years of service advocating for quality liberating education in the states and Haiti are why Dr. Berotte is a Fanm Potomitan.
Watch Dr. Berotte’s video interview here: Dr. Berotte Video Interview