Sit down Interview with David Edmund.
Interviewer: Anthony Chin Aleong.
David is presently doing his LEC at HughWooding Law School. He was the recent Valedictorian of the Faculty of Law where he graduated with first class Honours from the University of the West Indies.
Anthony: Where did you grow up?
David: I was born in Trinidad, but I grew up in Tobago. Spent roughly sixteen, seventeen years in Tobago, went to secondary school and completed my CXC exams over there. I did my Advanced (GCE A ‘levels) in Point Fortin,Trinidad.
Anthony:How was life growing up in Tobago?
David: Life in Tobago was very relaxing and enjoyable. I lived on a hill with my family so I had my cousins to play with and the school system over there was an extremely good one. The classes were very small so you had the undivided attention of the teachers, so you couldn't misbehave at all. Overall, the experience was a very nice one. As you know Tobago is a very calm environment, so the busy life or the fast life wasn't something that I was too familiar with.
Anthony: Was that something that you noticed moving to Trinidad, that life was a bit fast paced here?
David: Well yeah, for sure it is very fast paced; you always have to be on the go. Which is good at times but sometimes you can become very exhausted, because you need to try to keep up with the pace.
Anthony: Narrowing in on Tobago a bit, did you have any hobbies? What were your passions and what did you enjoy doing?
David: Well, just playing with my cousins whenever a game was available. We had this game... I can't remember the name of it, but it was linked to whenever the rain fell. We lived on a mud hill, so we would take mud, place it on a stick and pelt each other. So very adventurous games *laugh*.
Anthony: Sounds like you had a fun childhood.
David: Yes man, of course, of course. Sometimes I wish those days could remain.
Anthony: But even back then, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
David: Interesting question. When I was younger, I always wanted to be a pilot. I was fascinated by planes and this flying metal object. So I selected subjects to become a pilot when I was about to do CXC. After that my interest moved towards public policy and the vulnerable areas of people's lives; social ills. And I decided to then look for some area along those lines of public policy and that’s why I did Government and International Relations at UWI (University of the West Indies) and why I'm doing Law now. So my passion remains with assisting the vulnerable and addressing social ills in the world.
Anthony: So what brought about that switch from being a pilot to your focus on the vulnerable?
David: I think it's just recognising that there may just be greater things in life. I'm not saying that being a pilot is insignificant but it's just that I think when one looks at their abilities and desires, those should shape what one does. And that is the reason why I decided to go into addressing social ills and the needs of the vulnerable, because my heart was more passionate about that than being a pilot.
Anthony: Who were some of the people in your life who you felt inspired you?
My mom, who is very dedicated in what she does. Mommy isn't in academia or so but she is a very hard working individual. But those type of skills, being dedicated to what you do, being diligent and always remaining humble; those are some of the traits that my mom has always taught me and which continues to replay in mind constantly. So I'd say that my mom has certainly been one the persons I look up to and who has helped shaped the person I am.
Anthony: So you graduated with your first degree, with first class honours and was also awarded “Most Outstanding Student”. What are some of the things that attributed to your success?
David: The support of those around me and most importantly my belief in Christ. There are two important scriptures that guide me as I continue to pursue my studies. One of them is “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). The other is “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). Whether it be eating or drinking you do it unto God; for His glory. So my reason for being dedicated and committed to my school work is because of wanting to bring glory to God in everything I do; serving with excellence because I want His name to be glorified. So I think understanding that has encouraged me to pursue and achieve success.
Anthony: To the students wanting to achieve their goals, what words of advice would you give to them?
David. One of the most important things is to have a teachable spirit. We are all going to school to learn and your teachers/lecturers are there to share information with you. So never be resentful towards them and always be open to their teaching. That's one of the most important qualities; have a teachable spirit.
Anthony: So David, while you were at UWI, were you very involved in other pursuits?
David : Yes, I had my commitments at church, my local level where I was appointed the assistant youth Pastor. I was involved in some missions trips through church and I was involved in the InterVarsity Christian fellowship (IVCF) while I was on campus. I had to pioneer the IVCF work in the Law Faculty which was very dear to my heart. So there were some commitments while I was doing the LLB.
Anthony: With respect to IVCF what were your responsibilities?
Well, when I did my bachelor’s in Government and International Relations I was Evangelism Coordinator and then the Cell Group Coordinator for two years. When I did my LLB I was the cell group leader for the Law Faculty. We did not have any cell groups in Law so I had to pioneer the work there. And it was successful; we started the club and had proper attendance. The students who came from diverse backgrounds expressed to us how welcoming the group was and how thankful they were for the experience they had with us. And it continues to date.
Anthony: You mentioned some mission trips. Where are some of the areas you visited?
One of them was to Venezuela, which was really nice. But the one that was really life changing was Guyana, when I went into the interiors. It was amazing to see how people could have satisfaction and contentment with so little. And the passion for God within that area was really encouraging. Those were some of the commitments I had and I'm very thankful for those experiences.
Anthony: So David, you seem to have had a lot of things going on while you were in university and yet you were still able to maintain that balance and be successful. A lot of people struggle in this area. For those who may be thinking you can't be a student and do well in university, what are some the things you can tell or advise them?
David: Well balance is extremely important. So you want to try to get involved in activities, because it helps you to meet new people and stretches you to be able to commit yourself to schoolwork as well as other areas of life.
On the type of advice I'll give, well one would be to always manage your time appropriately and prioritise. When you know that you have something to do, make sure and you do it and allocate time for that. I think those are most important; time management and prioritising.
Anthony: So now you are at Hugh Wooding; how much time do you have left there?
David: And I think it’s about twelve (12) to thirteen (13) months.
Anthony: And after you complete this?
David: I want to get married *laugh*. And work. It's important to be balanced :)
Anthony: I listened to your Valedictorian speech. Two things you mentioned in summary: that we serve with excellence and that we love humanity. Could you elaborate on these points?
They are very connected Anthony. I was trying to encourage my colleagues to remember that everything we have gained so far in life, all the knowledge we have gathered, is for the benefit of mankind and in order for us to achieve that we need to serve with excellence. That was the first point and the second point was to love humanity; to have that human touch in everything that we do. And to remember that we all have failures, so you want to be non-judgmental towards others and always assist persons in whatever way that you can. So that was the reason I sought the balance: serve with excellence and love humanity.
Anthony: Some deep stuff there man. But as time is upon us, I have one last question. You spoke a lot about purpose and fulfilling your call. What advice can you give along those same lines, especially with respect to university students who are trying to discover who they really are?
David: Very Interesting question and I think if a person can understand this very early in their life it becomes more purposeful. That is, the understanding that we are designed to worship God in everything that we do. Whether relating to school work or extracurricular activities, life in general is one where you want to glorify God, you want to worship God with it. So with that, whether there is success or failure you continue to laugh, you continue to live you and continue to be a happy individual because you know your life is designed and being lived to glorify God.
Anthony: Well said. David thanks so much for your time and I wish you all the best in all your future endeavors.
David: Thank you very much Anthony and once again, thank you for having me.