“Put him in a pulpit and he becomes a preacher,” this popular adage is used when giving credit to that one person who can do just about anything. In this case, it is a ‘her’ we are referring to; Nicola Brown-McKenzie, a woman who has been called upon to assume many roles in both her personal and professional life.
If a game of Scattergories were to be played and the topic was jobs, one could think of McKenzie’s resume and come up with some careers starting with various letters from the alphabet to help them out. Student, cashier, maintenance worker, administrative assistant, teacher, sales support, motivational speaker, tour guide, environmentalist, volunteer, project manager, acting operations manager, Emergency First Responder, fire warden, chief steward, and counselor.
Her official title as many know it, is the Environment, Health and Safety Manager at Beaches Negril Resort and Spa. But, if any department needs her help for a day, she is more than capable and equally willing to lend a helping hand.
Brown-McKenzie has been such a respected hard-worker that the resort saw it fit and fair to award her 2015’s Most Valuable Player (Manager of the Year).
Her story did not begin here though as she has triumphed over many misfortunes to get to where she is today. She struggled through high school financially, immediately after her graduation she got pregnant and was thrust into single parenthood, unemployment, and further poverty. Brown-McKenzie recalls walking the length and breadth of Negril dropping off application letters and begging for the chance to be interviewed in any organization, just to prove to those who were hiring that she was worth the chance.
She recalls not being able to purchase clothing for her newborn and having to rely on hand-me-downs for the first 2 years of her child’s life to ensure she was properly clothed. “I have never been one to give up and what I wanted most of all was for a chance to give my daughter the best education and the best life possible. I wanted more than anything to be able to afford an ice cream on a Sunday evening for her. When I remember how I had to tell her no because I didn’t have the JM$50 to buy one when the ice cream bike came through the community, I get very emotional,” she shared.
She continued that she owes a great deal of thanks to Beaches Negril for giving an unemployed and inexperienced young mother a chance at independence in February 2006 and since then they have groomed, trained and rewarded her. “I am just so thankful to this resort for giving me so much. Not only did I get a job and my independence, I got the opportunity to do additional subjects at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) level, job promotions, a scholarship through the Sandals Corporate University to pursue a degree in Primary Education and exposure to many aspects of the hotel’s operation.”
Brown-McKenzie in comparing her life 15 years ago to the present says it is like night and day and she is filled with gratitude for all that she has been able to achieve over the years. “When I look at where I am today and where I am coming from, sometimes I have to pinch myself. I am not afraid to share my story because I want people to look at me and know that whatever they may be going through, giving up is never an option. Always believe that something good is bound to happen.” She also shared that her aim is to be an example to her children and the many youngsters she has empowered over the years.