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Donawa ...going after it all
It’s hard to believe he is only 26 when he begins to talk about his achievements, but Rondell Donawa from San Fernando—Ethan Lane, Corinth Hills to be exact—is certainly what you would describe as a go-getter.
Donawa is an attorney and he took time out from his busy court schedule, dealing with divorce and custody cases, to visit the T&T Guardian for an interview.
He was called to the bar in England and Wales by the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in 2011 and was later called to the bar locally in 2012.
Donawa said he enjoys his job as he often gets the opportunity to counsel families—pursuading them to settle amicably rather than going to trial.
“It’s always better to see families work things out rather than fight against each other especially when children are involved,” he said.
“That isn’t always the case, however, but as much as I could encourage people to make more sober decisions, I do so.”
Academically, the overtly charming and playful Donawa boasts an impressive resume.
He attended St Benedict’s College in San Fernando and Metropolitan University in London where he obtained an LLB in law.
Donawa also attended law school in Cardiff, Wales and worked as a research agent with the British Parliament for one year after graduating from university.
He also holds a Masters degree in media and entertainment law.
In 2005, Donawa represented T&T at the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington DC and New York City, where he was the head of all activities and received an award for outstanding participation.
But this enterprising young man is not an “all work and no play” type of guy. He finds time to express his opinion on social issues through the medium he has loved since his childhood—calypso.
Perhaps he wants to do it all in this arena too, as since his foray into the industry at 11, he has captured many first place titles.
Among them were the Tunapuna, Couva and South Calypso Monarch Competitions; The PNM Pointe-a-Pierre Constituency Calypso Monarch (2001, 2004); San Fernando Junior Calypso Monarch (2003, 2004); the NYAC Pathfinders Calypso competition (2003) and the Tenor Solo at the National Music Festival in 2003.
More recently, he won first place at the 2013 South Calypso Monarch competition singing a social commentary titled My vision.
The piece, which speaks about the basic fundamentals of family life, was composed by Winston Henry aka Explainer.
‘Thank you mother’
The product of a single parent, Donawa credits his mother Ann-Maureen Donawa, a nurse, for the adult he has become.
“I have seen my mother do it all, and always with a smile. I remember as a child looking at her and wondering where she found the time to do so many things all at once,” said Donawa.
He recalls always having a hot meal on the table for him and brother Andre—founder of the popular violin group, Alternative Quartet.
“She was involved in everything, from the PTA, to charitable organisations, church and anything that involved helping people,” Donawa said.
“She always said to us do good and good will follow.”
He said even when the family’s home was burnt in 2009, his mother remained the “cock-eyed optimist” that she is.
He said: “I was still in England just about to do my exams when I got the news and became frantic and couldn’t complete it. But when I received a call from my mom, all she said was ‘Rondell calm down and focus on your exams, everything will be alright,’ and that encouraged me to go through with it eventually.”
Like mother like son, Donawa has also become involved in charitable work, first becoming an active member of the PNM Youth League, then the Rotary Youth Club. He continues to work together with NGOs on various community-based projects.
Asked what advice he would give to young men, Donawa said: “I would tell them never say you can’t. I subscribe to Obama’s mantra—‘Yes we can.’
“That doesn’t only apply to just young people but young black men especially.
“I wasn’t the brightest bulb but I worked darn hard. You can’t just sit there waiting for things to come to you. It is your responsibility to go after what you want…make the best of this life.”
• Represented Trinidad and Tobago at Various Caribbean and International Cultural events. (Barbados, St Thomas,London, New York, Costa Rica). He visited London to perform in their Black History Month in October 2001.
• Placed third in the Tenor Vocal Solo and Folk song solo Category in Music Festival 2004. He also placed 2nd in the Gospel Solo Category of the music festival 2004.
• Finalist in National Junior Arts Festival ‘SANFEST’ Gospel Solo 2004.
• Placed first in Mixed Duet (Open Class) in Music Festival 2006.
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