Valerie Laurent-Thomas was born in 1937. Her parents were Eugene John Laurent and Andrea (Marin) Laurent who are both deceased. Dr. Eugene Laurent, himself deceased, was her only sibling.
Valerie moved to Arima in May of 1948 when her father was transferred from the Hardbargain Government School to the Arima Boys’ Government School.
On arrival at Arima, Valerie’s mother took her to the Arima Girls’ Government School (AGGS) to begin her first day as a student at that school. At noon on that first day, Miss Viola Horsham, then a teacher at AGGS, was asked by Miss Drucilla Cox the then Headmistress, to fulfill a request made by Mrs. Laurent. The request was that Miss Horsham should escort Valerie home for the lunch hour. Miss Horsham acceded to the request. However, after lunch on that day Valerie was escorted by her father to the Arima Boys’ Government School.
It could have been said that Valerie never returned to the Arima Girls’ Government School but that would not be entirely correct. She had to return to that school one year later to receive a prize from the Ministry of Education.
After attending the Boys’ Government School, Valerie sat the College Exhibition Examination and was the first girl in the island to top the list of successful pupils. But the records showed that she was registered at the Girls’ Government School.
Valerie attended St. Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain until 1956 thereafter completing the Higher Certificate Examination.
Her extra-curricular activity at the Convent was playing the violin. Trained by Mr. Victor Lanza, Valerie was a member of the St. Joseph’s Convent Orchestra which participated in Music Festivals and Concerts of the time.
Immediately after high school Valerie emigrated to Canada and began studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Both herself and her late brother, Dr. Eugene Laurent are alumni of that university. After post-graduate training in the field of Nutrition, Valerie remained in Canada and worked for many years as a Nutritionist/Dietitian in the Ottawa Valley until the early ‘70’s.
On her return to Trinidad, Valerie joined the Ministry of Health and worked in various capacities as a Nutritionist/Dietitian.
In the community, Valerie shared her expertise in Health Education with various groups in Arima and elsewhere, such as various Lions’ Clubs, and the Visioneers Group. She was instrumental in the formation of the Diabetes Association of Trinidad and Tobago (DATT), and for a few years held the post of Administrator of the office of DATT.
In 1988, Valerie began a career in acting after graduating from the University of the West Indies, Creative Arts Centre, with a Certificate in Theatre Arts with Distinction. Thereafter, she performed on stage and in film and video on the local scene. She has also performed on the International scene in a film produced by the BBC called “The Humming Bird Tree”.
Valerie is the mother of three Canadian-born children, Verlia Andrea, Vivian Angela and Geoffrey Michael, and one adopted son Jefferson Ashford. All the children had their primary school education in Arima. Geoffrey is an Alumnus of the Holy Cross College in Arima.
After early retirement in 1994 Valerie has acted as a consultant in areas within her expertise both in Trinidad and in Canada. She has written her yet-to-be-published autobiography which will be her first attempt at publishing her work.
By Kazim Abasali
Kazim Abasali is a multimedia artist who enjoys creating his empowering and inspiring art, music, videos, ebooks, published articles, and websites, for himself and others. To access his artistic projects, kindly visit his website.
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