By 5:30 am, he would be awake to get ready for work at Bank of Jamaica (BOJ). Between 4:30 to 5:30 pm, he would then leave work for The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, where he had 6:00 pm classes.
And even then, 26-year-old Romario “DJ Romziinova” Clarke balanced being a disc jockey who played at multiple entertainment events with his studies. Today, with great pride, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Banking and Finance.
“I believe having a degree is very important as it gives you capabilities to move up the professional ladder in our society. It sets you apart from many in our society. I am currently still employed at the Bank of Jamaica in the capacity of data analyst. I am also a multi-genre DJ and event planner. My DJ career really started closer to the pandemic. I played at numerous campus events on different halls such as Rex, Towers and UWI integration,” Clarke told the Jamaica Observer.
“I entered a DJ competition on Towers Hall in February 2020, and I came out victorious. During the pandemic, I made the necessary steps to acquire the necessary tools to further my career. I had more time to practice and study due to the pandemic and lockdowns. Classes I missed, I could go back and watch at anytime and make notes. For the first time, I found a work around for balancing school and my DJ career,” he added
Clarke grew up off Waltham Park Road in Kingston with his mother, Deziann Burton, whom he said made sure he never lacked anything.
“She supported me in all my endeavours and she was ever-present. Her love to me, like any other mother, was invaluable. There were need struggles. At times, we struggled to make ends meet, bills and expenses would pile up which made us feel discouraged. However, we were a family who believed that God is always in control of unbearable situations,” he told the Sunday Observer.
But despite those unbearable situations, “I never missed a day of school and I was never short of lunch money or food. She worked extremely hard to ensure my dreams were reality. She believed that I should have the life she did not have while she was growing up.”
Clarke’s education began at Rousseau Primary School, and he later went on to Jamaica College where he spent seven years and was involved in numerous sporting and co-curricular activities.
After he graduated from Jamaica College in 2015, he was offered a job as a returns clerk at the BOJ in August 2015.
He then started UWI in September 2016 as a part-time student. But during the pandemic, he changed his enrollment status to full time. He also picked up some leadership roles on hall – Cultural Entertainment Affairs chairperson, treasurer, and block representative. He was also vice-president of Properties and Special Initiatives Committee in 2020.
“I believe this career chose me because I’m a lover of numbers, so it was an easy fit for me. As it relates to music, I always had a passion for music from a tender age, as I involved in various church activities which included singing on choirs and playing instruments,” Clarke said.
So, there were quite a few things at play for Clarke — sound systems at nights, a lot of numbers at works and a lot of notes and assignments throughout his various courses. But he was able to manage them all.
“Proper time management and getting adequate rest, having a healthy diet and surrounding myself with individuals who have my best interest at heart. I have two managers, Gabrielle Curling and Adrian Lawrence Samuda, who keep me grounded and ensure I’m always on top of the game as it relates to my musical career,” he told the Sunday Observer.
However, that wasn’t always the case.
“I didn’t have the luxury of getting the chance to adequately prepare for exams at times, as my work schedule would get very demanding at times. I would go into my exams knowing I’m going to fail because I was just simply unprepared for them. I felt discouraged a lot of times because I know what I am capable of. I believed that I was a brilliant student and the grades I would receive did not reflect the type of person I was,” Clarke admitted.
He said it became “very frustrating and depressing” not only because his performance wasn’t up to his standards, but because he felt as though he was failing his mother.
“I didn’t want to disappoint my mother because she sacrificed so much just for me to be at place in life where I can provide for myself and send myself to school. I decided to change my regime as it relates to how I studied. I made a lot of sacrifices, so when my friends were partying and enjoying their university experience, I was in the library at late hours studying and making notes.
“I would go to my office downtown on weekends and study in the quiet during the exam periods. Proper time management, and I had a lot of help from my friends who helped me with assignments and to prepare for my exams.”
Clarke told the Sunday Observer that it was a necessary change because he had a plan.
“I always strived to be different, and becoming a DJ while working at the Bank of Jamaica and doing school was one such way I could set myself apart from others within my field. From a business perspective, my professional career also aids me in manage my earnings from DJ gigs and reinvesting that same in myself and craft,” he said.