A passion for realising national development through the effective communication of policies and programmes for the benefit of all is the catalyst that propelled Deandra Morrison to become a 2023/24 Chevening scholar.
A student leader and high achiever since her days at Meadowbrook High School in St Andrew, Morrison copped multiple awards in various subject areas as well as regional and national recognition for her stellar performance in the 2014 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) for sociology.
She later matriculated to The University of the West Indies where she received her bachelor's degree in journalism.
"I went with journalism because of my strength in English and the humanities. I really wanted to make an impact in any way that I could for Jamaica and the Jamaican people. I was very interested in advocating for people and letting people's voices be heard. I wanted a medium where I would be involved in advocating, telling stories for others, and raising issues and concerns that the Jamaican people had," Morrison said.
The opportunity to fulfil this desire presented itself when Morrison landed a position at a prominent media house where she was able to share stories highlighting the society's most vulnerable.
During her time there her vision for helping others through media and communication was further refined.
"I found that I liked marketing and communications better. I was doing it on the side and I wanted now to find a way where I could utilise my love for marketing and communications but still advocate for others. That is how I came into the practice for government," the 2023/24 Chevening scholar explained.
The trained communicator has amassed years of experience in the area of public policy communication and marketing, having joined the public sector as senior communications officer at the Ministry of National Security, and, thereafter, appointed director of public affairs and communications.
This provided a greater platform for advocacy by broadening the outreach to citizens with information of national importance.
"This was a very important role for me that helped me to see how communications can help our country to move forward, whether it's the communication of policy, advocating for at-risk youth, or hosting sessions to help persons in volatile communities to access resources the Government has for them," Morrison shared.
The role saw her integrally engaged in communicating the 2021 updates made to the Corrections Act and the Firearms Act, 2022.
The Ministry of National Security also adopted a transformational agenda to rebuild, renovate and retrofit police stations islandwide.
This was dubbed project Rebuild, Overhaul and Construct (ROC), and Morrison was a major player in the development and execution of the complementary communications plan.
This included conceptualising the Journey with Project ROC video series that showcased the work of the ministry to millions of viewers on social media platforms and local television.
"That saw me working closely with our building and projects team to coordinate the opening of the police stations, and raising awareness about the renovations so that people in the community could know that they are now accessing upgraded facilities," Morrison shared.
The ongoing project is meeting its objective of converting police stations to modern, citizen-friendly workspaces with the type of ambience that allows individuals to comfortably engage with the police.
Commenting on the level of comfort residents experience when accessing services at the newly renovated police stations, Morrison said this is "life changing because I got to see how my work could impact communities".
She also played a pivotal role in overseeing the execution of the communications plan for the E-commerce National Delivery System, which ensured business continuity for food service industry providers and citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Striving to impact even more lives through the marketing and communication of government policies and programmes, Morrison later joined the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority, where she manages the investment, promotion, and communication portfolio.
In this role she promotes the work of the authority to build awareness and attract investors to the island.
"I do have a passion for using communication and marketing to enact sustainable development in my country and to ensure that our vision, as a Government — including Vision 2030 [Jamaica] — is realised through empowering and educating Jamaicans about the strategies and resources that are in pace to help them and how they can take advantage of these things to better their lives," an impassioned Morrison expressed.
To this end, she will pursue a Master of Science in Marketing Communications at University of Westminster in London, as one of the 14 Jamaicans awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship for 2023.
Morrison aims to utilise crisis communication and communication for development strategies across the public sector to realise the national development goals.
She also intends to use the knowledge and skills she acquires to better the lives of domestic violence survivors and vulnerable youth in volatile communities.
Morrison, who was a reserve candidate for the 2022 Chevening Scholarship, says she is nervous but hopeful about her prospects for 2023.
"I was really elated to find out that I did, in fact, get the scholarship after the interview — and it definitely is a dream come true. It is a testament to the work that I have done and is reflective of the fact that I am truly a resilient person," she added.
Founded in 1984, Chevening is the United Kingdom Government's global scholarship programme aimed at developing global leaders by providing opportunities for postgraduate studies in the UK.