The Caribbean Voice
I've Only Just Begun
"I don't want hand outs! Give me the same opportunity that everybody gets. I want to be able to look back at my achievements years from now and remember fondly, how my sweat and efforts earned it".
The words of Norbert Aloysius Thomas, Jamaican by birth, American by choice. Norbert, like most immigrants to the United States, came in search of a better life. A life that was not marred by all the financial and/or political woes that was present in his native land.
The Early Years
Norbert was born in 1967 in Kingston, Jamaica to Iris Guthrie and Adolphus Thomas. He was the only child produced from this union. However, there were other siblings from either side of his parents. His parents were separated early in his life and Norbert grew up with his father and his wife, Udell. Norbert's parents weren't wealthy. Infact, Norbert reflects on growing up in one of Jamaica's most notorious ghettos called "Mongoose Town". His parents, who are devoted Christians, kept Norbert on the straight and narrow path for all of his childhood and teenage years. Though his parents only had elementary level education, they did their best to supply Norbert with all that he would need, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially in preparation for his later years.
Norbert, the third and last male child for Adolphus, was always considered to be smart. His father named him 'Norbert Aloysius' because according to the ancient Catholic records, a male child born on the 6th day of June should be called Norbert, which means brightness. Because Norbert was an 'only child', (his brothers lived with their mother), he had adapted to doing things by himself and for himself. He was always a very curious and adventurous individual. Norbert grew up with his small family of three for 6 years until his adopted sister, Ilene, made the count four.
At age 6, Norbert was enrolled at St. Peter Cleaver Primary School In Kingston. It became very evident in the first few weeks that Norbert was an above average student. His teachers had to move him to a higher grade because he was ahead of his peers. Norbert spent 5 years in the Primary school system at the end of which he was one of 3 students in the history of the school to have been awarded a scholarship to Jamaica College after attaining such high scores in the Common Entrance external exams. The other two students were 12 years old while Norbert was a mere 10+. Norbert reflects on his 5 years spent at Jamaica College.
"It was a really new beginning for me so much so because of my humble background. Jamaica College (JC as its known), was considered to be one of, if not the best of the elite schools. Everyone knew you had to be going to one of those high-class private primary schools or be the child of some public figure in Jamaica's social life to even be considered for a school like JC, but the Lord had his plan for me. Those five years were key years in my life as I learnt more about myself and had the chance to understand life on a wider scale".