For Mother’s Day, Train Operator Latina Laramee of Fridley can celebrate herself this year.
A single mother, Laramee landed a bus operator job with Metro Transit in 2011. The change allowed her to have one job instead of three, while still supporting herself and her son, Tahjer Winston, who will graduate from Osseo Senior High School in June.
Mom is a graduate, too. She earned an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship from North Hennepin Community College last December and will finish a second associate’s degree in business administration this summer.
Winston is now applying for apprenticeships to become an electrician, and Laramee hopes he will someday join her at Metro Transit, servicing the Green Line trains she’s operated since 2014. As for herself, Laramee would like to become a transit supervisor or an assistant transportation manager. Transit supervisors manage detours and other service-related issues, and assistant transportation managers support bus and train operators.
It’s a future Laramee couldn’t have imagined when she dropped out of high school at 16 to start working and became pregnant at 18. She drove school buses for seven years and worked two other jobs, including operating buses for a private bus company.
``I was getting burned out. I never saw my son,’’ said Laramee, who realized a better future was possible when she saw fellow bus operators joining Metro Transit.
``I studied for my GED for six months. When I got it, I applied and I made it,’’ Laramee said.
Laramee drove buses out of the Heywood and Ruter garages until January 2014, when opportunity knocked again.
``When I first came in, they were telling us about light rail. I signed up right away. I was really excited to be able to operate a train,’’ said Laramee, who worked on the Green Line’s opening day.
Still, she continued to work a second job until she reached the top pay scale at Metro Transit.
``It is tough when you don’t have a support system as a single parent. But it’s possible if you put your mind to it,’’ she said. ``I think my son appreciates it that he has a mother who works hard.’’