Wednesday 22 May, 2019

Trinbagonian Rhodes scholar: Find your passion and don't give up

Photo: Zubin Deyal was awarded the 2019 Caribbean Commonwealth Rhodes Scholarship and will be studying economics and finance at Oxford University.

Photo: Zubin Deyal was awarded the 2019 Caribbean Commonwealth Rhodes Scholarship and will be studying economics and finance at Oxford University.

20-year-old Zubin Deyal said he was in shock when he learned that he'd been awarded the 2019 Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship for Barbados.

Deyal, who graduated from the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus with First Class Honours in economics and finance, said the reality is still sinking in.

“It still hasn’t really set in yet. I think it’s a great blessing, I’m really looking forward to it."

Deyal said initially he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do but said he felt an affinity for economics and paired it with finance which felt like a natural match.

Deyal said by pure luck, he found about the scholarship just months before the deadline.

“The reason why I applied to the scholarship was because I needed funding for my Masters, I actually didn’t know about it until a couple months before everything was due, I’d just stumbled across it,” he said.

After a mad scramble to have his application submitted, Deyal is now looking forward to the next phase of his development.

“It really was a shock. To me, everyone who applied was deserving of this scholarship in their own ways. At the end of the day, I thought that everyone deserved it. To hear them call my name in a room full of people, it was amazing,” he said

Deyal plans to do an Economics for Development Masters and a Finance with Economics Masters, as he has hopes to help develop the Caribbean’s financial development systems.

“My idea was to help the financial systems and the economy of the Caribbean so that we can sustain ourselves, our own development and our own growth,” he said.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Deyal applied for a competition to win the chance to work with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and won. His internship soon led to a position at the Trinidad branch of IDB where he has gained valuable training in his field. 


Not just Trinbagonian but West Indian

Although he is Trinbagonian, Deyal embraces a regional perspective, having been born to a Trinbagonian father (journalist Anthony Deyal) and Guyanese mother (Starbroek News columnist Indranie Deyal) and living in various countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and even Belize.

“I see myself as a Caribbean person. I was born in Barbados to a Trini dad and Guyanese mom, then we moved to Trinidad, then Belize, then Antigua. Moving around and being born to a Guyanese mom and Trini dad, it really made me feel like a Caribbean person, not belonging to just one nationality but more a regionalist.”

“If I’m in a room with Trinis, I’m Trini, if I’m in a room full of Bajans, I feel Bajan, it’s very fluid and I like that."

"At the end of the day what’s important to me is that I’m a Caribbean person,” he said.


Scholar and cricketer

Deyal was also Vice-Captain of the Leeward Islands cricket team in Antigua and was part of the West Indies Under-17 Tournament in 2014, making his name as a bowler.

Deyal said his passion for cricket has helped create balance and represents for him a true picture of what regional unity can bring about.

“I want to keep playing cricket. Cricket at the time was an amazing thing to me and it still is because it’s an ideal representation of regional integration and what West Indians can achieve when united. And I really like the sport.

“I used to love watching the old West Indies matches from the 70s when we were beating everyone…it showed me the strength of a united West Indies. Even now, it’s something that stuck with me, and that idea of unity will always be there as something we can achieve,” he said.

Deyal said he will be starting his programme in September 2019 but still has much to prepare in order to be accepted into his programmes, including admission exams.

“I just want to make sure I have a good basis from which to start,” he said.


Overcoming challenges

It may sound like it was smooth sailing for Deyal, however, he said he has often been faced with inner conflict.

“There were so many times when I wasn’t always so sure about what path I was supposed to take. It’s a natural part of who I am and I think it’s a necessary part of me, in that I want to always re-evaluate myself and my direction. For me, it’s about looking at what’s on the inside, as an individual it’s about being introspective.”

“In times of failure, you have to look at who you are and what were the elements that caused it, and you try to learn from it. No matter what happens, even if you experience failure in your life, you can always learn something from it,” he said.

In terms of advice, Deyal said it’s important to find direction and purpose.

“I was very confused initially in terms of what I wanted to achieve. I think what helped me is that I explored myself and that’s the advice I want to give.”

“Before you start, you should explore who you are and what you want to do with your life, and what kind of effect you’d like to have in the world.

“And once you figure that out, just go for it, give it everything you have. Every day, when you wake up think about your goal and never give up, and try to achieve it. Do whatever you can to find time to do that.”

“I think it’s about being passionate and driven and having a clear understanding of what you want, and after that everything just flows,” he said.

Deyal added his siblings and parents have always been his inspiration and source of strength.

“When I called my dad to tell him, he was so proud…he was very emotional, it was the first time I heard him like that.”

“It meant a lot to me because as a kid, they’ve given me so much, and one of the things I wanted to do was make them proud and see them happy,” he said.

Deyal thanked his family including his two sisters, brother and parents, his teachers, coaches and friends for helping him on his journey.

“I don’t think I would have achieved half of what I did without them, and I’m very grateful for that,” he said.

All the best to you, Zubin!


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