Dr. Thomas celebrates 20 years
October 16, 2009
Dr. Thomas celebrates 20 years

Trials and hardships can be conquered by perseverance.

That is what Dr. St Clair Thomas did and this is the message he extends to young people today.{{more}}

The man who is now the Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and the Environment had very humble beginnings, and he says he owes his successes to his ‘GAGA’ – “God and God alone.”

Thomas grew up poor in the rural village of Akers, with fourteen siblings, a blind father and a diabetic mother. The family’s source of income came from his mother’s work and the efforts of his blind father.

“Mommy used to work in the country picking cotton, and daddy would try and plant potatoes and so on,” Thomas recalled, during a telephone interview with Searchlight. Thomas remembers that he and all his siblings had to pitch in, helping their mother and father as they worked on plantations, and assisting neighbors on their land.

Although his childhood was challenging, Thomas reminisces on the good times. Chuckling, he mentioned collecting water on mornings, growing up in the wattle and daub house and playing cricket. Back then, he said he thought his impoverished lifestyle was normal. The thing that made a difference, which removed him from poverty, he said, was his education.

He revealed that he was the only child in his family to have access to secondary and tertiary education; the other fourteen had only attained primary level education. Thomas added that he was the only child at the Calder Primary School to pass “School Leaving” in his year, after which he attended the Mountain View Adventist Academy, then sixth form at the St. Vincent Grammar School.

But gaining a diploma in medicine proved to be another challenge as his struggles with finances continued. Thomas was accepted into the University of West Indies (UWI) medical school in 1975. He however had no financial support, so he could attend. Three consecutive years of acceptance, with no admission followed, until he was able to start his first term in medical school on October 27, 1978, at UWI, Jamaica campus.

With a loan from his sister, Thomas financed his first year of school; the second year was financed by a student loan from the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He and his wife were married at the end of the second year and her earnings from a campus job supported the two during the following years. He was also granted loans from on campus organizations.

“It was difficult,” Thomas admitted. “I had to borrow (books), I had to beg…but I enjoyed studying.”

The Ear, Nose and Throat specialist says it was his love for studying and God’s hand supplying his needs that brought him through his years of college. Thomas also conquered the greatest loss of his life, the death of his mother, through prayer. She died during his first year at UWI, while his father died during his final year. He then went on to pursue postgraduate studies on a scholarship from the British Government. He remembers his years in Scotland as thrilling, and the people as helpful and accepting.

It has been twenty years since Thomas completed his postgraduate residency in Ear, Nose and Throat/Head and Neck Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. He arrived home on October 16, 1989, and is grateful to God, his family and his clients who have helped him along the way. He has learnt a lot about life and living through his service to others. His advice to others, including his three children, is “irrespective of current circumstances, never give up, be hopeful…don’t think negative, think positive!”