2SER Volunteer Dona Sirimanne Wins 2021 Brian White Scholarship
Congratulations to 2SER volunteer Dona Sirimanne, winner of the 2021 Brian White Scholarship, announced by Commercial Radio Australia. Dona was selected as the recipient of the award from among 10 national finalists, after taking part in a workshop conducted by leading radio news directors. She will soon undertake an eight-week paid placement, working for two weeks each at Nine Radio, Southern Cross Austereo, ARN and NOVA Entertainment in the Sydney newsrooms.
Named after renowned radio broadcaster Brian White, the scholarship is now in its fifth year of distribution by the commercial radio industry. Eligible applicants include recent graduates, as well as students completing their final year of study in courses relating to Media, Journalism, Communications and Radio.
Reflecting on Dona’s success, 2SER Manager Martin Walters tells Radioinfo: “2SER is absolutely thrilled for Dona, we all look forward to seeing where she takes her career journey from here. We’re also delighted that a 2SER Newsroom volunteer has won the scholarship two years running, reflecting the talent coming through the station and News Director Geoff Field’s dedication to mentoring student volunteers.”
Having started out as a producer for various magazine shows at 2SER, Dona’s progression into the newsroom was an unexpected surprise. “I actually didn’t plan to get into the newsroom or news reading until I met Geoff Field who is the News Director at 2SER,” she says. “He came along one Saturday and I read the news for him, just for fun, and he saw something in me I didn’t. I joined the newsroom shortly after that and the rest is history! – To this day, we still talk about how serendipitous it all was.”
It’s been two years since that fateful Saturday, and 2SER News Director Geoff Field reflects on Dona’s advancement throughout this time. “Sometimes life can present you with the unexpected. Like the weekend two years ago when I went into 2serFM for the ‘Radiothon’ and met Dona who was producing, and just for something different, I asked her if she would like to read a news bulletin I had prepared,” he explains. “To my amazement and elation, Dona delivered it flawlessly, as if she had been reading news all her life. Within weeks she had joined the newsroom, and has become an accomplished journalist and in my opinion, one of the best up and coming newsreaders in the country. I believe Dona would make an excellent presenter or investigative journalist. In fact, whatever Dona puts her mind to, she is bound to excel and succeed.”
Due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the Brian White Scholarship Finals took place online for the second year in a row. The finalists were required to partake in several newsroom exercises and record a live cross about a current news event. They were also given individual feedback and advice.
CRA Chief Executive Officer Joan Warner says, “It has been another challenging year and we are delighted that the Brian White scholarship finals could continue in a virtual capacity. Current global and domestic events make it imperative that Australia’s young top talent have every opportunity to build their careers in the live broadcast news industry.”
Having won the scholarship during a pandemic, Dona discusses how she has been managing to keep a work/life balance in the current lockdown: “It has definitely been a challenging time for everyone, and it has required a fair bit of adjustment,” she says. “There’s a lot of advice out there about how to achieve an ideal work/life balance, but what has worked for me is to simply embrace the time and surrender to it. I’ve been immersing myself in the news and work but also taking time to relax. I don’t think it’s helpful to constantly try to achieve the perfect work/life balance. Some days you will be super productive and smash your goals, and other days you won’t. Both are okay. I think you have to just listen to your needs and make decisions based on that.”
In an interview with radioinfo, Dona describes how elated she is about the scholarship. “I’ve always loved the production and broadcast aspects of news radio and can’t wait to learn as much as I can during the scholarship.”
Now in her final year of a Bachelors of Secondary Education/English Literature at the University of Sydney, Dona is looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead: “There’s so much I would love to do,” she says. “I want to cover a great depth of stories from local to international angles and I am so grateful that I am in an industry that allows me such a great diversity of work.”
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