50-year-old grandmother and LIT OSHT graduate reaches to the sky
BEAUMONT – When you find yourself married at 15 and pregnant by 17, life hands you its own set of challenges. But 35 years later this single mom of two and grandmother of three is the proud role model and inspiration for her very large extended family.
Connie Laurent graduated with honors from LIT in May 2017. Less than a month later, she secured a position with a global disaster solutions company. Her starting salary was $58,000, plus a truck allowance and per diem when traveling.
“After two years of employment here, I make $59,745.00,” she said, speaking from her current project in Florida. "Lamar Institute of Technology literally changed my life. To this day, there is nothing I can’t do or accomplish.”
Her “aha” moment came in 2015 after she grew tired of working for 30 years in a “dead-end” medical lab job with an annual salary that capped out at $35,000. Through her medical employment, Laurent had worked with OSHA and was intrigued.
“In the hospitals we were trained always to be very safety-conscious,” she said.
Laurent decided to pursue an associate degree in Occupational Safety and Health Technology (OSHT) at LIT. Little did she know that her future career would require her to climb scaffolding up to 70 to 80 feet high. Laurent recalled the countless days and sleepless nights she spent crying and threatening to quit the program because it “was just too hard.” But her instructors at LIT and family persisted, providing her tough love and much-needed support.
She is working on her bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health, anticipating completion in 2021. Laurent raved about her employer, as the company encourages employees furthering their education and accreditation.
“I feel like I’ve experienced the world. Every job I have here is different,” she said. “You meet someone new every day."
Laurent has advice for students that can't decide if taking the leap of faith and furthering their education is worth the investment.
“Taking this huge step with LIT has been rewarding in so many ways. I took away from that program discipline. I would advise students, don’t be discouraged; nothing worth having is easy,” Laurent said. “Thanks to my education at LIT, I’m a totally different person than I was five years ago.”