August 16, 2012

Michelle Kirton

Associate Director
Counseling Service
Lived in Trinidad & Tobago, the USA, Canada, and England

I was born in Gasparillo, Trinidad & Tobago, and raised in several different countries. Although both of my biological parents are from Gasparillo, they too have lived in several different countries, but only after having a consistent childhood and spending their adolescent years in Trinidad & Tobago. At the age of 6, I left Gasparillo and lived in Arkansas in the United States.

In this southern state, I learned how different I was from my peers and American adults— as my English, mannerisms, knowledge base about many things (from Santa Claus to snow to basic fruits to even knowing how to wear so many clothes at the same time) were challenged as I adapted to fit my new surroundings.

Within a few years, I moved to Toronto, Canada, where all I can remember now is snow, snow, and more snow, and lots of ice as I slipped my way back and forth to my bus stop for school. I eventually moved to Europe where I lived in Ipswich, England and on a military base there. In England, I picked up another version of English (different from Trinidadian English and southern US English) which carried a noteworthy accent, a love of fish ‘n chips (not potato chips), and a strong affinity for really trying to understand people.

After 4 years in England, my family moved to Southern California—San Bernardino to be more exact. It was there that I once again re-sculpted my accent, tried my best to hold onto my friends without quite knowing how (as I still was a child and just starting adolescence), and learned to focus on the things that I had control of, which undoubtedly led me to the study of psychology and the love of helping others adapt to an ever- changing, confusing, and yet extraordinary world.

My hobbies now include traveling (which is expensive to say the least), indulging in my favorite foods—pomerac, Portugal, sorrel, king fish, crab, macaroni pie, callaloo, phulourie, and doubles–which cannot be found locally, and experiencing the wonders of our environment as well as the wonders of people. Thus, I also love to read about people’s experiences in various cultures; books such as “The Toss of a Lemon” and “The Poisonwood Bible” are the types that captivate me.

My adult years have also consisted of “moving around,” as I spent 4 years earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of California at Santa Barbara, 2 years earning a master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and before spending a year living in Florida to complete my doctoral degree, living in Arizona for 3 years to do much of the foundation of that doctoral degree. I now live in Portland Oregon and have spent much of my latest summer vacations in the Latin American countries of Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.