Posing with the trophy for excellence in leadership at Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) prize-giving ceremony is Donjah Pommells, the head girl.
“THERE ARE many persons in Jamaica and there are many persons in the world – what makes you stand out?” asked 17-year-old Donjah Pommells (pronounced Don-yah), the shining star from the Convent of Mercy Academy, Alpha.
The school’s head girl, young Donjah has enough accolades under her belt to warrant envy, but the student is simply resolved on standing out from the pack. “I don’t want to be regular,” she told Youthlink. I try to do everything in my reach to be a part of my community and to be able to expand my horizons. I refuse to limit myself to school and church, so I want to be able to be involved in all aspects.”
These aspects include the Inter-School Christian Fellowship (ISCF), Key Club, Junior Optimist Club and the Student Safety on the Streets initiative, where she serves as secretary. Outside of school, she is a member of Path Finder and Adventist Youths and she is the assistant public relations officer for the Portmore Youth and Sports Club.
THE DRIVING FORCE
But what drives Donjah is not merely self-actualisation, but the ability to make her family proud.
“My family and my mom, specifically,” she clarified. “I see the work that she puts in, in general, and my dad as well, and it pushes me to be even better. I see all the energy and effort they put out for me, so I want to be exceptional for them.”
She admits to getting tired sometimes, but the motivation to continue is ever present. “The key to all of this is balance,” she affirmed.“I have to balance my time wisely, because when I am not in class I am still busy. My breaks are taken up with meetings or I would go to the library to study and practice math. I have to find the time because when I get home, I still have a lot of things to do.”
Being the top student for information technology for both the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC)and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) at Alpha, Donjah knows the value of preparation. She received nine subjects at the CSEC level, six grade ones – five of which were with distinctions – and three grade twos. She replicated similar success in the lower sixth-form level with a grade one in information technology, two grade twos and a grade three in the other subjects.
Stephen Francis, the faculty adviser for the Sign Language Club at Alpha, of which Donjah is president, told Youthlink, “She is always prepared. She only comes to me to inform me of what is happening or what events are coming up.”
He said, “She does it all well and there are no complaints about her. She is actually a strong student and was awarded for her outstanding achievements recently. The difference with Donjah and other leaders is she has fun doing it all.”
Donjah’s mother, Donna Pommells, shared similar sentiments of her child. “I am very pleased because it (her leadership roles) has caused her to be a rounded individual. Her willingness to give back is also commendable, because that is what life is about; helping someone else along the way.”
Donjah reaffirmed, “As head girl, I am seen as an older sister to those who are younger than I am because I try to help them as much as I can.”
She revealed, “I have an older sister who came to this school and did well, so a legacy has been set for me to follow, and I am happy that I have outdone that.”
On the threshold for university, Donjah hopes to study actuarial science overseas or locally. Her advice to others starting high school is obvious – get involved. “You have to find a balance between work, giving back and having fun, and enjoy it while it lasts. If we don’t build our community and school, then who will?” she charged.
Looking ahead at the bright future she is promised, Donjah is confident of one thing – God alone will see her through.
“My philosophy is always, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” she said. “It sounds cliché, but as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I find that one of the things that also makes me stand out is my faith, and that has allowed me to become stronger. Even at times when I would get tired, having that faith is a plus.”