How Sharette Oliphant’s childhood dream of studying law became a reality.
Published on: 02-20-2023
Twenty-two years ago, when Omar Oliphant and Sharette Kirby, then students at Northern Caribbean University (NCU), met on the Adventist campus in Jamaica, they did not know that a life of service would evolve into a marriage and the first Adventist pastoral attorney couple.
On December 15, 2022, Sharette Oliphant was called to the bar at the Supreme Court of Jamaica, with her husband beside her to robe and assist the newly minted counsel taking the oath to enter the profession.
Raised in a single-parent home, Sharette learned how to thrive amid difficulties and persevere through hard work toward achieving her life goals. Although her childhood dream to be an attorney did not materialize after high school, she immersed herself in the study of psychology with a minor in political and legal studies at NCU.
“I give credit to my husband for being a ‘dream-enabler and people empowerment specialist,’ as he is always seeking the best for his people but especially for me and our family,” Sharette said.
Things were not always perfect for Sharette, who is now also the young senior youth leader of the Old England Seventh-day Adventist Church in the rural area of Manchester. She had her childhood dream of being an advocate dashed due to financial limitations, but she did receive a graduate scholarship to pursue her master’s degree in counseling psychology, which she earned at age 21.
Thereafter, Sharette entered the workforce as a librarian, preparatory school teacher, and later, as a career development officer. It was as though the dream to be an attorney-at-law died, she said, until her husband pursued his dream of becoming a lawyer, creating a stir in 2017 as the first Adventist pastor in Jamaica to be called to the bar.
The end of Omar’s legal studies became the beginning of Sharette’s study of the law. She graduated two years later from the Faculty of Law with an Upper Second Class Honors degree. This qualified her to enter the Norman Manley Law School, where she passed her bar exams, graduating in 2022. While being a mother of three daughters and employed outside of her home, Sharette went through an intensive program of lectures and tutorials, court attendance, mock trials, legal aid clinic, and hours of study, procedures, and rules of law during the pandemic years.
“The truth is, it really does bring excitement,” Omar said. He feels more proud of his wife being called to the bar than he felt for himself. “I think it’s wonderful in the context of our relationship, where we share goals together and grow together as a couple, and for me seeing her reach her goal to become an attorney, I’m over the moon.”
The accomplishment was a cap on the Oliphants’ celebration of 14 years of marriage in December 2022, a month that is special for the family as the anniversary of Omar’s ordination and calling to the bar, as well as Sharette’s own calling to the bar.
“It’s a surreal feeling; it’s a dream realized,” Sharette said. “I’ve always wanted to be an attorney; I knew it from before high school. If you look in my school yearbook and all of that, my ambition was to be an attorney.”
Sharette is currently employed with a government agency that deals with technical skills training development for youth and young adults. She will be practicing law soon and has interests in civil, conveyancing, employment, probate, and family law.
“My dream moves beyond my personal desire to serve, advocate, and give support to issues of justice and equity in the workplace, family, and society,” Sharette said. It’s about aiming to tap into the branches of practice that enable individuals to actualize their capacity, potential, and dreams rather than the cut and thrust of adversarial advocacy, she added.
The family continues in ministry in East Jamaica, where Omar serves as the public affairs and religious liberty director for the conference as well as the senior pastor for the Andrews Memorial and New Kingston Fellowship churches.