Woman Power – Latoya Minott-Hall, 21st Century superwoman
Her life, from teenage years until she was thrust into adulthood, was always one of much publicity, beginning when she became festival queen for the parish of Manchester at the age of 18, and being crowned Miss Church Teachers' College soon after.
Latoya Minott-Hall describes herself as always acting older and possessing the maturity and zeal for excellence and accomplishment well above someone her age.
Now a mother of three, and the public education and special projects manager at the Office of The Children's Advocate (OCA), Minott-Hall has forayed into numerous fields, managing that which is required of her professionally while still maintaining her duties as wife and woman of the home.
"My professional life started out in the year 2000 when I was a wide-eyed, exuberant teacher of English, drama, and my all-time love, geography, at Garvey Maceo High School in Clarendon. The experience was an interesting and rewarding one which set the tone for many more successes in my teaching career, which spanned a total of 15 years, though broken at points to pursue others dreams and careers."
After excelling at the institution, reeling in several gold medals for the region in JCDC speech competitions, she later moved to Spalding High in Clarendon, where she once again sought to inject her positivity.
"I helped to institute the school's Cadet Corp then. Many students at the institution, interestingly, have gone on from that experience to serve both the Jamaica Defence and Constabulary forces. That tenure, too, was short, as many teaching jobs are, and so I went on to teach after accepting a more permanent position at my alma mater, Bishop Gibson High School for Girls. There I shone equally and helped with the choir and continued on the medalling path where JCDC competitions were concerned. I even won a medal or two personally for music pieces I delivered."
A tragic family situation soon disrupted the course of her professional life as a teacher, and Minott-Hall soon found herself at the RJR Communications Group as a journalist.
"I was baptised into this brand new field of work by the mere direction of God's hands. From five years, I learnt both the joys and sorrows of the profession that so many wonder-eyed girls and boys dream of. It was in 2008 that I met my now good friend and fellow journalist, Kirk Wright. He affirmed that day in me what so many had told me before - that I had the proverbial media voice. He told me of openings at his media house, encouraged me to apply for the job and, voila! Months later, I was a teacher transformed into reporter and producer."
She added, "The five-year journey was dotted by painful moments, but it also bore great rewards as I won, in 2012, the Global Water Partnership Media award on water for excellence in journalism on integrated water resources management. I also received commendations and a certificate of merit at the Annual Fairplay Awards in 2011 for a series of stories done on a Manchester mother with 11 children. Under the stewardship of editors like Archibald Gordon and fellow journalists Nicole Hayles and Krista Campbell, learning the job became easy, meaningful, enjoyable and eventually rewarding."
Minott-Hall made the decision to leave media after the death of her beloved grandmother. She hoped to take her life into perspective and deal with another phase of her life.
"My eldest daughter, who is now 13, was in preparation for GSAT and needed my attention, along with my third child, who was about to start school for the first time."
She continued, "With my three beautiful girls - Ashleigh, Alayna, and a precocious four-year-old, Ana-Christina, balancing a full-time career and being Mom to them is not the easiest task, but it's what keeps me going."
With a demanding job and hectic schedules, Minott-Hall is pleased she has a supportive partner.
"My job at the OCA is heavily steeped in public education and can see me attending meeting after meeting, travelling far and near across Jamaica to bring the message of the preservation of the protection of children's rights. This isn't a one-man show as having a supportive partner is critical to all this, and that's where Ronald comes in. He is extremely supportive and helps out with the girls in any way he can, carrying himself a very difficult and demanding job as a forensic crime scene investigator. This keeps the wheel of the family turning."
With such a fast-paced life, it is very easy for persons to miss out on spending quality time with family, but there is a plus for this superwoman.
"I believe that striking a healthy balance both emotionally and spiritually are important and, as such, all these activities play a vital role in reducing stress and balancing my life, hence my visits to church and having date nights with 'hubster'. When I can, I also go to the gym. That's relaxing and healthy, too."
She ended, "Family time sees us bundling up in our living room and watching a range of things, from Peppa Pig to the latest music videos or movies. We live five minutes from the beach in Old Harbour, and that is our playground. We cook dinner, jump in the car, towels strewn over our necks, and off we go for hours at a time. That's how we relax. It's not strange for us to get home and run down to the sea side for a few minutes. We all love it!"