News Releases

Young Activist Suana Sookdeo wins UWI Makandal Daaga Law Scholarship

For Release Upon Receipt - December 3, 2020

St. Augustine

Suana Sookdeo, a community activist and National Youth Awards nominee from Chaguanas, is the winner of the 2020/2021 Makandal Daaga Scholarship in Law. The scholarship is named in honour of the political activist and leader of the Black Power Movement. It is awarded by The UWI St Augustine Faculty of Law to a student with a record of advocating for positive social change through tangible action.

Sookdeo is an artist and activist who works at the community and national level. She is a poet and spoken word performer who advocates against gender-based violence, working with the Ministry of Gender and Youth Affairs. In 2015, she was nominated for the National Youth Awards in the Art and Culture category for her poem, “Violence Against Women”. A year earlier, Sookdeo took part in the National Children’s Forum.

Speaking on her reaction to having won the scholarship, she says: “I was overwhelmed with happiness. It was a very exciting moment for my family and me, being the first one to pursue law at The University of the West Indies.”

Established in 2016, the Makandal Daaga Scholarship was created to develop lawyers who will be agents of positive social change in Caribbean society, working towards promoting justice and egalitarianism. The first scholarship recipient was Kareem Marcelle, an activist from Beetham Gardens who is engaged in community outreach. Sookdeo is the second.

“This time we have perhaps a softer touch in terms of her activism,” says Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Law. “She’s been recognised by the Office of the Prime Minister - Gender and Child Affairs in terms of her own activism. She is a quiet person but very dedicated and committed to this social grounding [that the scholarship seeks to inspire and support.”

The Dean added that, “the Makandal Daaga Scholarship is a very unique scholarship. It focuses on increased access to legal education through the Faculty of Law through our main programme, the LLB (Bachelor of Laws degree). We have enabled persons who would not normally be able to get into the law faculty to do so because they have made a mark through their activism.”

Sookdeo’s work in Chaguanas, where she tutored students, visited homes for the elderly and took part in charity drives, garnered commendation from the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, who stated she “is a very hardworking and dedicated individual, who is actively involved in community work and has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages, children in particular.”

Speaking of her goals in accessing the scholarship, Sookdeo says she will use it to “help those that are less fortunate, to be their voice, to advocate against domestic violence, and fight against injustice and inequality in my society.”

The Makandal Daaga Scholarship is open to CARICOM nationals of any age, race or gender. Applicants must have a discernible record of advocating for positive social change in their communities through work on issues of justice, equality, or democracy, whether in an NGO, governmental, regional, or individual capacity. Although the admission standards are not as stringent as those for the Faculty of Law degree programme, applicants must satisfy the matriculation requirements of The University of the West Indies.




Photo Caption: Makandal Daaga Scholarship in Law winner Suana Sookdeo

About The UWI

For more than 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students across five campuses: Cave Hill in Barbados; Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda; Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago; and an Open Campus. Times Higher Education has ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018 and 2019. The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.

As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. For more, visit

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of “The”)