D’Andra Johnson was recently selected as a Chevening Scholar for the academic year 2018-2019. She will attend Queen Mary’s University of London (QMUL) to study for her Master of Laws (LLM) degree in Comparative and International Dispute Resolution.
The Chevening Scholarship is an international scholarship awarded to students with leadership qualities from 144 countries and territories to embark on postgraduate study or courses in universities in the United Kingdom. Funding comes from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Currently employed as an attorney at Lennox Paton, her colleague Ra’Monne Gardiner described D’Andra as a “homegrown success” having funded each of her academic achievements, and as one whose story would inspire others seeking opportunities in Abaco.
D’Andra is an associate in the Litigation Practice Group at Lennox Paton and has been working there for two years. As an attorney-at-law, her practice area covers commercial and civil litigation including areas of contract, employment, banking, insolvency and restructuring, contentious probate, company, and trust.
As humble as they come, D’Andra was shocked to discover that she was selected as a Chevening scholar.
“I read the first paragraph, and my initial reaction was [that of] my heart racing. Then I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, this is really happening!’; then, ‘Oh my God, is this really happening? You didn’t even finish reading, calm down and read the whole letter.’ Once I realized it was real, I cried and said ‘Thank you God, You did it again!’ When I composed myself, I called the people closest to me to share the good news,” D’Andra recalled.
The process of becoming a Chevening scholar had been an intense one, yet it induced introspective thought for her.
D’Andra said that while filling out the application, it caused her to thoroughly analyze herself, her past, her country, her area of intended study, her plans for the future leaving her to determine how she intended to combine those things to improve self and country.
Many times, D’Andra set the application aside thinking she should just leave it alone and not apply anymore because she didn’t have life “all figured out” yet.
“Typically, I have insurmountable persistence, confidence, drive and faith, but doubt sometimes has a way of creeping in. However, I have a few people in my life who support me and refuse to let doubt prevent progress. I completed and submitted the application only minutes before the deadline – I had to at least try.”
To become a Chevening scholar, there is a list of criteria that has to be met for successful candidates. For D’Andra, she believes her academic achievements were what sealed the deal for her. Moreover, her achievements combined with the degree of clarity of how she could use this opportunity to contribute to the development of The Bahamas made her well-sought after.
“I believe these qualifications worked in my favour because they exemplified my leadership capabilities. Chevening seeks out future leaders,” she said, confidently. “I expect to excel in my academic program and to gain exposure and meaningful connections in the UK through Chevening and QMUL, all of which will expand my mentality and allow me to make a meaningful contribution to The Bahamas upon my return.
“As a result of inevitable growing global economic relationships, I anticipate the profound development of international arbitration in this country, which will encourage international trade and investments and contribute to a sustainable boost in the Bahamian economy.
“I intend to use everything I have learned thus far along with all I expect to learn over the next year in London to make a significant contribution to my country’s sustained economic growth.”
Thus far, D’Andra’s greatest accomplishment has been becoming the 2018 Chevening Scholar, and she plans on using her dispute resolution skills to make a non-profit contribution to society.
Graduating as the valedictorian of Abaco Central High School (ACH) in 2006, D’Andra’s pursuit has always been that of excellence.
She is also equipped with day-to-day principles that have guided her through life.
“My life’s philosophy is to constantly live by faith in God because with God nothing is impossible – Luke 1:37.”
For as far back as she can remember, D’Andra always saw herself as a tenacious, driven individual when it came to achieving goals and that has kept her focused. She notes that her life is still a work in progress, but she has set mini-goals within the main goals, so that there are always small victories along the way.
She also draws most of her inspiration from her father, Andrew Johnson, whom she says has “endured so much throughout his life, but never stops pressing on and trusting God.” As for her mother, Deborah Johnson, she passed away when D’Andra was four years old.
Nevertheless, no matter what obstacle she faces, D’Andra stays the course.
“Your struggle does not define you. You can become more than your mind can begin to imagine, but only with faith and persistence. There will be rejections and disappointments and your plans will not always work out, but that does not mean you have failed,” she admonished. “You only fail when you stop trying. Do not stop trying — ever! Set small goals, stay focused and before you know it, when you reflect on your life you will stand in awe considering all you were able to accomplish in spite of what you have encountered.”
She paused to express her gratitude to all of her supportive friends and family.
“They know who they are; I tell them all the time,” she said. “A special thank you, however, though goes to the Chevening FCO for providing this opportunity.”