Dr Donna Barret Immigrant with a Dream: Success Against All Odds on Carry On Friends Podcast

Immigrant with a Dream: Success Against All Odds

In the latest episode of Carry On Friends I have a great conversation with Dr. Donna Barrett about her journey of immigrating to America with only a dream, overcoming obstacles and achieving success. Dr. Donna is a Jamaican-born best-selling author, a philanthropist and the founder of the real estate company, The HomeValue Group Keller Williams.

Though Dr. Donna’s immigration journey was not a smooth one, she believes that God was with her through it all. She tells us how she risked everything and illegally got to America by ship without any money to spare. Eventually finding her way, she obtained legal status through her husband.

In this episode Dr. Donna also shares with listeners about her educational efforts. She went from GED to PhD in America, but not without its challenges. While completing her doctorate she was faced with the death of multiple family members, plus her daughter in a coma after childbirth. She tells us how she depended on the Lord to carry her through while believing “this too shall pass.”

It is her belief in God first and herself second that helped her to overcome the obstacles she faced, and she encourages us to do the same. Dr. Donna also believes the promises in the Word of God and speaks those as affirmations everyday as a way to stay encouraged. 

Dr. Donna and I discuss entrepreneurship and the sacrifices Dr. Donna had to make in order to gain success in her real estate business. In the first two years of business she didn’t have any clients but, rather than give up, she chose to learn as much as possible and do what it took until she was successful. Similarly, I added that in business there is often a need to divorce yourself from the original idea and look for new ways to do business.

With many years’ experience running a business, Dr. Donna gives advice to those who
are at their corporate job but considering entrepreneurship. She encourages them to start entrepreneurship on the side as it takes time to become financially secure. She also warns them to be careful of burnout.

Since we and our family should come first, we need to make sure that we set aside the time and prioritize self and family care. We also discuss the need to find something other than our current focus, and enjoy that thing. For example, Dr. Donna suggests scheduling vacations in your calendar first, then everything else afterward. And Kerry-Ann adds that even those who work 9-5 jobs can find a passion and nurture it.

As we wrap up this week’s episode, we talk about Dr. Donna’s books and how they can help us to overcome life’s adversity.

Key Points

  • Dr. Donna Barrett tells us her story of immigrating from Jamaica to the United States. 
  • Belief in God first, and herself second, helped Dr. Donna Barrett to overcome the obstacles she faced throughout life. 
  • In business, she learned as much as possible and made changes where needed until she saw success. 
  • Make time for self and family.
  • Dr. Donna shares advice to those who are in corporate jobs, but interested in entrepreneurship.


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Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown is Founder & host of Carry On Friends one of the first podcasts dedicated to the Caribbean American Experience. She is leading the way for Caribbean Podcast as the founder of Breadfruit Media, the first Caribbean podcast production company; and founder of the Caribbean Podcast Directory a place to discover podcasts by people of Caribbean Heritage.