Sun | Jun 16, 2024

Trelawny late bloomer moving through the ranks

Simpson’s perseverance pays off with degree, job in law enforcement in the US

Published:Saturday | May 25, 2024 | 12:07 AMRochelle Clayton/Staff Reporter
Tristants Simpson.
Tristants Simpson.


Tristants Simpson’s start was not the best.

Having failed the mere three Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations he was recommended to sit, Simpson left Albert Town High in Trelawny with only a school leaving certificate to his name.

However, the country boy from Clark’s Town in the western parish was determined not to allow that disappointment to dictate the trajectory of his life.

Simpson, now 27, has recently graduated from the police academy and is a law enforcement officer working at the Knoxville Police Department in Tennessee in the United States. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice.

While reflecting on the journey to his recent successes, Simpson told The Gleaner that life growing up in rural Trelawny was not a walk in the park. He is the last of seven children and was exposed to hardship at a really young age.

“I am what they classify as a late bloomer. My family was going through some real hardship. My mom and my dad were going through a break-up, so that affected me mentally. That played a big part in me flunking high school,” Simpson explained.

After Albert Town High, the then-teenager was introduced to the education ministry’s Career Advancement Programme (CAP), where he completed a certificate in commercial food preparation.

This, Simpson said, played a major role in changing the course of his life.

“I want to big up the ministry because I was introduced to [CAP] and that allows youths to do a skill. I did a certificate in commercial food preparation,” he said.

“Along with that, I did some international subjects, City & Guilds, and from there I matriculated into a college programme at the Western Hospitality Institute in Montego Bay to further my studies.”

Simpson, fuelled with ambition and a will to persevere, went on to complete an associate degree in hotel and restaurant management and a bachelor’s in hospitality management.

“I used those smaller credentials to matriculate into an associate degree. I completed the associate degree and got another scholarship to do a bachelor’s degree,” he told The Gleaner.

After dedicating some time working at the education ministry’s Joint Committee for Tertiary Education (JCTE), Simpson migrated to US in 2021, with big dreams of becoming a law enforcement officer.

And three years later, the Trelawny native now proudly wears a Knoxville Police badge.

“I have now been working with the city of Knoxville for one year. I started off as a public safety recruit, which is like a cadet, while I waited for the police academy. I started the police academy last September and I graduated in March this year.”

He added, “I feel really good to know that I pushed through the hardship, and the fact that I could have gone down the wrong road given my situation. I am really proud of my achievements and where I came from.”

The journey was not without its fair share of grief, as Simpson’s mother passed away before he completed the police academy.

His family, though, is sharing in his pride.

“My mom died last year. She would have been really happy, but my dad is extremely proud. My other brothers are really proud of me as well, so I am making the family proud.”

In the meantime, while pointing out that he now fills a very esteemed role, Simpson stresses the importance of the youth persevering even when they feel as though the cards are stacked against them.

“I am helping, and I am saving the community. I really like nation building and I like helping the youth. There are like 10 of us black officers in the department and most of them are eligible for retirement, so that would put the department down in coloured officers. I feel like the baton is being passed to me and it is a heavy responsibility to represent the black culture.”

However, Simpson noted that his past failures have served as motivation throughout his younger years and told The Gleaner that he hopes other Jamaican youngsters are able to use his story as guidance.

“If you don’t press on and do what you need to succeed, the probability of you going down the wrong road is great,” Simpson warned.

“It is important to know what you want and push towards getting it. You cannot allow your current situation to hold you back or change your mindset towards achieving greatness,” he added.