During her high school years in Trinidad, Patricia Antoine-Norton struggled to make decent grades and wound up failing the examinations to attend college. She was forced to repeat her final year of high school. When she finally passed the second time around, she enrolled in a Seventh-day Adventist institution, Southern Caribbean University, where she was introduced to the Bible and Christian beliefs. It was a transformational experience. At age 19, without her parents’ approval, she made the bold decision to be baptized. In the ensuing years, Norton went on to graduate from Andrews University in the first class of physical therapy students in 1988. Norton wrote the following letter to her 24-year-old self.
Dear Young Pat,
I know you want to have a career in the medical field and have asked mom for advice. Should you be a doctor or a nurse? Mom, who knows you best, advises against it because she says you don’t have the patience and you are not gentle enough.
But then a documentary featuring physical therapists working with a baby, moving the arms and legs and the head to help with crawling, made such an impression on you and influences your career choice. So, you work full-time and attend school part-time in the hopes of achieving your goal of becoming a physical therapist.
When your parents respect your decision of becoming an Adventist and decide to fully support you emotionally and financially in your physical therapy studies at Andrews University, that was only by the grace of God. Isn’t He great?!
When you learn that you’re dyslexic, and have problems with numbers, mathematics, history and dates, causing you to check and recheck phone numbers, you wonder how will you even graduate from college? You learn that getting enough sleep is very important and helps you think so much more clearly. When you eventually graduate on Sunday morning and are married Sunday afternoon since everyone is present for graduation, it’s further confirmation that God is indeed good. He hears you when you call and answers your every prayer.
As you travel to Berrien Springs, Michigan; Staten Island, New York; Elizabeth, New Jersey; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Plymouth, Minnesota; Columbus, Indiana, and later Racine, Wisconsin, Christ is right there by your side, guiding you with His Holy Spirit.
My prayer for you is this: Don’t give up. Keep persevering. Always have a positive attitude and outlook. Rely on God. Trust in His plan and timing. Study His Word and God will bless you each day in Him.
Patricia Antoine-Norton, Wisconsin Conference Women’s Ministries Coordinator
Originally printed in the Lake Union Herald, March, 2019