Written by: Priya Balakumar
Introducing our latest Brown Girl Boss, Laura Persard.
Laura is an Indo-Jamaican feminist, Registered Nurse, former Jahajee Sisters steering committee member and classically trained dancer. She was born and raised in Bronx, New York and completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the University of South Florida. Her passion for women's empowerment stems from her time working with Jahajee Sisters.
Laura’s parents emigrated from Kingston, Jamaica to Bronx, New York in the late 1970s. As a child, Laura was obsessed with Bollywood movies and her parents eventually enrolled her in classical dance classes which she attended until college.
As most of us try to figure out our identity as young women, Laura mentioned “I always identified with being Indian and Jamaican at different times throughout my life."
"I only recently started identifying as an Indo-Caribbean woman in college, around age 18.”
When we asked Laura what makes her proud to be Indo-Caribbean, her response was “I am most proud about being of Jamaican heritage. Most people do not know the history of Indian indentureship in Jamaica. Being Indo-Caribbean means not fitting into any one category/checkbox.”
Indo-Caribbean culture is formed from a melting pot of traditions, culture and identities. Indo-Jamaicans are not always highlighted in the Indo-Caribbean community, and that is why Brown Girl Diary is here to break down barriers. Our aim is to support and empower Indo-Caribbean women of all nationalities across our community.
Laura has been a Registered Nurse (RN) for three years and has a background in Cardiac/Telemetry nursing and ambulatory nursing. As a health care provider committed to racial justice, Laura is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Nursing at Georgetown University to become a Certified Nurse Midwife and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Her research is focused on maternal health and mortality. Women of colour die at a rate that is 3-4 times higher than their white counterparts.
Laura’s passion for women’s health and inclusivity, makes her a leader in the medical field.
Many young Indo-Caribbean women in various fields face the barrier of not fitting in or not being taken seriously due to the colour of their skin. You truly have to prove yourself, especially being a woman of colour. Laura explained that “Becoming a nurse at 21 means that a lot of people didn’t take me seriously. People would assume that I’m too young or incompetent to work in the health care field.”
To Laura, being a Brown Girl Boss means having the opportunity to empower other young Indo-Caribbean women to overcome racial and stereotypical based hurdles.
As Indo-Caribbean women, we face many challenges within our communities when it comes to reproductive health, immigration, and gender-based violence. Her goal is to inspire other young Indo-Caribbean women to create a bright future for themselves.
As a young professional who has paved her path in the industry, Laura wants young girls to know that they should “Never give up on your dreams. No matter who or what tells you that you can’t accomplish your goals, keep persevering.” Her drive and belief in herself is what makes her such a strong role model. As Laura continues to dream big and reach for the sky, she wants to use her platform to reduce health disparities amongst women of colour and to open a birth centre. This birthing centre would provide holistic, patient centred care to women that would prefer not to give birth in the hospital.
Laura is not just a role model at the hospital, she also plays a key part in her role as a former steering committee member of Jahajee Sisters.
Jahajee Sisters is a movement building organization committed to ending gender-based violence. Laura is very close to her older sister, Suzanne who is a founding member of Jahajee Sisters. This relationship contributed to her politicization as an Indo-Caribbean woman.
Her identification with feminism came through becoming a steering committee member of the organization in 2012.
Laura says that “Having an older sister who is queer has been a formative part of my own professional practice to provide competent care and be inclusive. I have experienced firsthand how easy it is for people to discriminate against LGBTQ patients.”
As a leader and advocate in the Indo-Caribbean and LGBTQ communities, Laura is paving the way as a role model for young Indo-Caribbean woman in the health care industry. We are very excited to see all that Laura will accomplish in her future!