Patrice Beckford: A story of survival and success
What do you do when all the things you are living for disappear? When your hopes of achieving a degree and seeing your parent or grandparent smile with pride at those achievements shrivel and die, how do you cope?
Seven years ago, Patrice Beckford's world was full of promise. A young woman from a modest home in Westmoreland, Beckford defied the odds and made it to the Northern Caribbean University, thanks to financial assistance from family members and a strong support system in her grandmother.
She was just a year and a few months shy of getting her bachelor's degree in media and communication, when an act of violence resulted in the death of her grandmother.
Born to a teenage mother, Beckford had been raised by her grandmother. Now with her support system gone, she was forced to discontinue her studies. Beckford was left dumbfounded and she sank into a state of depression.
ROAD TO SUCCESS
She considered it too hard to lean on her family during such a trying time. She began searching for a job so that she could save enough money to complete her studies. She heard about the Sandals Hospitality Training Programme, and successfully matriculated. After six weeks of training, she was hired to the hotel's concierge department.
Today, she is the Club Sandals' supervisor at Sandals Negril Beach Resort and Spa.
"Sandals saved my life," Beckford told Flair.
A career in the hotel industry was not something she had ever thought about. But she recalls with clarity the moment she decided to build her career with Sandals, giving up her original intent to save for school. "I realised as soon as I was hired that I could do this. I was good at this!" Beckford explained. The very first couple she welcomed to Sandals Negril - John and Donna Alverez from North Dakota - are now among the company's most loyal guests.
The couple had never travelled outside of the United States before going to Sandals in 2009, where they were welcomed by Beckford. They have visited Sandals every year since.
Beckford received The Diamond Talent of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious accolades at Sandals Negril's annual Prestige Awards.
The ceremony, held in April, was an unforgettable event for Beckford, especially since her mentor, Mark Pike, programmes manager, business processes and administration for Sandals Resorts International, was the keynote speaker at the event. Beckford shared that Pike has played a huge role in her life. "Whenever I need advice or an avenue to vent, I can send him an email or call, and he would always make a difference." She said that having him sitting next to her as she received the award was surreal and amazing, adding that "He saw [in me] what I couldn't see."
At work, Beckford is loved and respected by her colleagues. General manager David Latchimy boasts not only of Beckford's work ethics but also of her personality, saying, "Patrice is the epitome of hospitality. She has a warm heart, a caring personality that is infectious, and doesn't go unnoticed by guests."
There is no doubt that Beckford loves her job. "I love Sandals," she noted, adding, "I had to find a way to pick myself up, and Sandals provided that opportunity."
Her life was flipped upside down, but Beckford has managed to land on her feet.
She has developed a passion for hospitality, and she recently returned to university. This time, she is pursuing a degree in hospitality at the University of the West Indies via a scholarship from the Sandals Corporate University.