Karen Harrison-Trent was born and raised in Jamaica and is familiar with island life.
“I’m from Jamaica, so yes, Boca Grande reminded me of my Jamaican home, with the island feeling and the ocean. When I’m here in Boca Grande, I feel like I’m at home.”
Karen Harrison-Trent joined the Boca Grande Health Clinic team in January 2021 as a Certified Medical Assistant. A recent 2020 graduate of Florida’s Southern Technical College, Karen, her husband Bryan, and her daughter live in Port Charlotte where they enjoy living a quiet life.
Karen moved to the United States in 2008 looking for work and a place that would offer advantages, such as an education and better employment. “There’s more opportunity here in the United States for my family, so that’s a plus.”
While she was here, Karen met Bryan Trent and they married in 2009. After their marriage, Karen decided to stay in the United States, but first, she had to return to Jamaica to get her daughter and her mother.
“I was trying to find a job in the medical field. I was home one day, and I received an email and a call from Mark, the CEO of the Boca Grande Health Clinic. He was asking me to set up an appointment. I really liked talking to him and you know when you feel like there’s a connection? I felt that and that this would be a good place for me to work.”
One Zoom interview later and Karen was invited to a second interview at the clinic. “I’ve never been out here on the island before, so we had a second interview where I came to the island to meet the staff.”
Karen’s daughter, Jade, came along for moral support. “When I came out here, my daughter was with me, and she was in the car. When I walked inside, I was impressed with the environment. When you walk into the clinic, you feel like this is home. I love it here.”
Karen’s daughter agreed. “She said, ‘Mom, this is such a beautiful place. I’d love for you to get that job.”
The Boca Grande Health Clinic agreed. “Mark, he called me and asked what I had decided, and I said, ‘I’m ready to start.’”
Karen couldn’t be happier with her new role at the Health Clinic. “I love my job here and everyone is so nice. The doctors here are very respectful and appreciative and everyone is like family. That’s my favorite part of being here, that and the people you meet each day on Boca Grande. You see people and they are always friendly, always smiling and saying hello.”
Karen’s daughter, Jade, is now 17 and has already started classes at The University of Florida. “She’s getting ready to go off in a few weeks when she’ll be moving. She’s going to move to Gainesville on August 13.”
Karen looks forward to moving Jade into her new apartment and is proud of her daughter and her achievements but isn’t looking forward to the empty nest. “Jade is my only child and I’m just happy that she’s close by so I can visit her. I’m going to miss her.”
Jade is a recent graduate of Florida Southwestern Collegiate High School, a public charter high school operating under the direction of Florida Southwestern State College. One advantage of attending FSW is that college-bound students are connected to dual enrollment options. This provides tremendous opportunities for students as they prepare for college.
Now that Karen has graduated and is working at the Boca Grande Health Clinic, and now that Jade is safely moved on her college campus at the University of Florida, Karen looks to the future with optimism. “A big goal is to get Jade through college, of course. Once that’s done, I really would like to go back to school. I want to be a registered nurse, so that’s what I’ll be working on next. But I just want my daughter to get settled into college first and then decide on where to go from there.”
When she can carve out some spare time, Karen enjoys listening to music, spending time with friends, and counts shopping as one of her favorite hobbies. This was particularly tough when COVID-19 hit because she prefers to shop in person and not online. “That is my biggest thing, going shopping. So not being able to go in person was tough for me.”
When asked if she still misses Jamaica, Karen said, “I do think of Jamaica as home still, because I go back home every year. I do miss home, but here is my home, too. There’s just something special about Boca Grande.”