Embracing our identities
Hi Phoenix! What is your PhD all about?
I am focusing on the idea of identity and cultural acceptance for black queer women in the Caribbean, focussing on the island of Saint Martin, which was colonised both by the Dutch and the French. I want to focus on acceptance, belonging and the sexual self-identity. As well as what has changed in the Caribbean so far and how that affects queer women of colour.
Why did you choose it?
Out of curiosity really. I happened to be in Saint Martin for their annual Carnival and I saw the most amazing thing: black women loving other women. I saw them embrace their cultural identity and not have to compromise their sexuality, being with partners or girlfriends. That sparked my curiosity to find out whether or not same-sex relations has evolved in the Caribbean, despite what the media might be saying.
Why Leeds Beckett?
Primarily because of Professor Shirley-Anne Tate who works in the Carnegie School of Education here. More than that, it’s the administration and their kindness. The staff have been wonderful with helping me with my transition from Leeds University to Leeds Beckett. It is just such an opportunity to be here.
What’s the best thing about doing a PhD?
Learning and being able to exchange ideas with other professors, other colleagues; and the opportunity for growth. It is about evolving my idea into something that will become a contribution to an established school of thought.
And what’s the biggest challenge so far?
My biggest challenge so far is my Confirmation of Registration! Trying to work out how to expand this idea that I have, this passion that I have, and to present it. It’s quite nerve-wracking; but at the same time, I hope that it goes well.
What’s the most useful thing that you’ve learnt so far?
How to do a literature review. Also, that asking and talking to people helps. Something as simple as trying to reach out to other people when you feel stuck. Also, to use the resources that they have in the library to learn everything from doing literature reviews, critical thinking and more electives like that. I think that is amazing.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
Being accepted at Leeds Beckett University to study for my PhD.
What is your top tip for new research students?
My top tip for research students is to ask. No matter how big or small it is, just ask…and breathe! It’s ok, we’re all going through it. Don’t feel as though you’re doing this alone or that any question you ask is dumb because I’ve probably asked them all, so just breathe!
What do you do to unwind?
I like to travel. I watch movies at the Vue on Mondays, I go to poetry nights and I love going dancing.
What would you say to someone thinking about applying for a PhD at Leeds Beckett?
Don’t get caught up in hierarchy and status. It’s all about your supervisor and it’s all about the staff and how they are willing to help you. What’s most important is what the School is giving to you. It’s not necessarily about institutions themselves. I’ve been at two different types of institution in the UK and at the end of the day it’s about what makes you feel comfortable and that your research is going to be taken care of and that’s what is most important. Plus we have such a beautiful campus here!
Where do you want your PhD to take you?
Leeds Beckett hopefully! Maybe one day in the future I could be teaching here!