Another success story out of crime-ridden Laventille, 27-year-old University of London graduate Lindianne Marshall is the focus of this week’s edition of “From Laventille With Love”, the 13th story in a series highlighting positive groups, organisations and individuals from the stigmatised Laventille community.
SINCE her primary school days Lindianne Marshall had always dreamed of a career in law or politics.
“I actually wanted to become the first female Prime Minister in Trinidad,” she laughed during an interview with the Express.
Even though Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar claimed that title, Marshall remains undaunted.
Growing up in Village Council Street, Laventille, the 27-year-old said she had an ordinary childhood.
“Life in Laventille was not as bad as others may think it is. I would hear the things going on around but my immediate neighbours were not involved in anything so it was not hitting home that often,” she said.
While Marshall said she is lucky to have never been a victim of criminal activity in the area, she said she has been indirectly affected as she had previously lost a family member to crime.
“One of my cousins was gunned down a couple of years ago right in front of a group of us while we were in church,” she said.
Despite the reputation of the area and several killings in the street over the years, Marshall said she had nothing to fear partly because both her father and brothers were police officers, and partly because of her faith in God.
“My mother always carried my brothers and me to church. She ensured that we had those values and support and I think that is what kept us,” Marshall said. “I was never afraid and I am still not afraid.”
Fearless and determined, Marshall continued to pursue her dream of a legal career, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of London in 2009 and obtaining a post-graduate diploma in mediation studies and behavioural sciences from The University of the West Indies (UWI) in 2012. Not stopping there, the ambitious Laventillian recently completed her studies at the Hugh Wooding Law School and is awaiting graduation.
Now, she is anticipating being called to the bar in November.
Her hope for the future is to work in criminal law and prosecutions and, with the first female Prime Minister title taken, her aim is to become a judge.
She credited her parents, Eleanor and Lindley Smith, her three elder brothers and her husband, Yohan Marshall, who she said have all been instrumental in her success thus far.
Marshall noted that the road to her accomplishments was not always a smooth one as she experienced financial strains to pay registration and examination fees not covered by the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme. Additional fees and books would amount to approximately TT$10,000 each year, she said.
However, she was grateful for the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP), which she said she was eventually able to access and which helped to fund her three years of study at the University of London. She said she wants more youngsters from the Laventille area to take advantage of these kinds of programmes that are available for their benefit.
“There are a lot who take advantage of these opportunities and who excel but we don’t really hear about them,” she said. “You don’t have to look far to find them.”
Marshall noted that several other persons who graduated with her have come from depressed, stigmatised areas and have defied the odds in pursuit of success.
“But we rarely ever hear about that. We only hear about the murders and the protests.”
Marshall’s hope for her community is for the stigma to be lifted, and for persons from Laventille to not have to lie about their addresses in order to secure jobs and other opportunities.
“People need to take a closer look and recognise that not everyone who comes from a certain area are a certain way,” she said.
Her advice to other young women in the community is to not be a victim of their circumstances.
“Just because you are from an area where negative things are taking place, it doesn’t mean you have to get involved in it as well. You don’t have to follow that pattern. You don’t have to be like everybody else. You can make a difference. It’s all about making the right choices. Your response to difficult circumstances will determine whether or not you are successful.”