Derron Watkins is the latest TT national to be awarded an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree (EMJMD) scholarship. Watkins, who obtained two Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Psychology from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, will read for a Master’s degree in ‘Work, Organisational and Personnel Psychology’ at the University of Valencia, Spain and at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. He will journey to Spain to begin this course of study in September.
According to Watkins, hard work and a passion for Psychology are the drivers of his success. It was while studying for first degree that he realized his true interest lay elsewhere: “When I entered UWI in 2013, I decided to pursue a major in Economics,” he stated. “But along the way I fell in love with Psychology.” Not being one to quit, Watkins decided to finish his degree rather than switching majors and then made the decision to return to UWI for a second undergraduate degree in Psychology.
It was not an easy road. With GATE funding unavailable for this second degree, Watkins needed to work full time to make ends meet and to pay tuition and other expenses. Still, he was able to graduate with first class honours. A true change maker, it was while working at one minimum wage job and observing how management treated their employees, that he decided that ‘Industrial and Organizational Psychology’ were the keys to his future career. “I want to help companies to realize the true potential of their employees, while ensuring that employees in turn feel valued and rewarded,” he said.
Speaking about his future plans at the end of his study abroad, Watkins, currently a Business Operations Assistant II in the ‘Social Services Unit of the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago, Family and Children Division’, said he hopes to, at least initially, be able to return to his job providing services for families and children. Longer term, he plans to establish his own consulting business.
The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree Scholarship programme is highly sought after around the world by individuals seeking to study in Europe. It allows scholars the opportunity to read for a postgraduate degree in at least two countries in the EU, all expenses paid. In 2021, 2,756 scholarships were awarded to individuals in 141 countries. Watkins is one of an elite group of approximately 100 individuals from Trinidad and Tobago who have been awarded the scholarship since 2005.
Commenting on Watkin’s achievement, Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the EU Delegation, Mr Ze Alves-Pereira said: “We are very happy that this enterprising and hardworking young man was chosen and we celebrate with him and his family this achievement. We hope that he will find his time in Europe to be an enriching one and that he will return to Trinidad fully prepared to play his part in this country’s development, as so many of his predecessors have done.”
He further added: “There are so many talented individuals in Trinidad and Tobago who can benefit from this opportunity to expand their horizons and experience and I would like to encourage more nationals to apply to the Erasmus programme.”
For more information about the European Union’s Erasmus Scholarship Programme, please visit: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/opportunities/individuals/students/erasmus-mundus-joint-masters-scholarships_en.