Derron Watkins is the latest Trinidad and Tobago national to be awarded an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree. The scholarship will allow him to study at two universities in Europe.
Watkins, who has two bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology from UWI, 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 travel to Spain to begin his studies in September.
Watkins said in a media release hard work and a passion for psychology are the drivers of his success. It was while studying for his first degree that he realised his true interest lay elsewhere.
“When I entered UWI in 2013, I decided to pursue a major in economics. But along the way I fell in love with psychology,” he said in the release. Not being one to quit, Watkins decided to finish his degree rather than switch majors, then returned to UWI for a second undergraduate degree in psychology.
With GATE funding unavailable for this second degree, Watkins had 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.
It was while working at one minimum-wage job and observing how management treated the employees that he decided industrial and organisational psychology were the keys to his future career.
“I want to help companies to realise the true potential of their employees, while ensuring that employees in turn feel valued and rewarded,” he said.
On his future plans at the end of his study abroad he said he hopes, at least initially, to be able to return to his job providing services for families and children. Watkins works as a business operations assistant in the Social Services Unit of the Judiciary's family and children division. In the 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, the release said. It allows scholars 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 TT who have been awarded the scholarship since 2005.
Commenting on Watkins' achievement, chargé d’affaires of the EU Delegation Ze Alves-Pereira said in the release, “We are very happy that this enterprising and hard-working 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.
“There are so many talented individuals in TT 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 info on the European Union’s Erasmus Scholarship Programme: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/opportunities/individuals/students/erasmus-mundus-joint-masters-scholarships_en.