Trinidad & Tobago Independence “Diaspora’s Next Gen” Spotlight: Melissa Joseph

As Trinidad and Tobago celebrates 53 years of independence, the National Weekly turns to the Twin Republic’s booming diaspora here in South Florida, celebrating young and talented individuals 40 and under that are already taking our community to the next level. From young Taekwondo masters to university deans, from artists to tastemakers, no doubt our future is bright in their hands.

Meet phenom, Melissa Joseph.

Age: 20

Hometown: Orlando, Florida

Profession: Professional Taekwondo competitor and medical student at University of South Florida

Though the youngest on our list, taekwondo martial artist Melissa Joseph is already tackling life hands on in the ring and classroom. American-born with strong Trini roots, the international, multiple gold medalist has represented both USA and Trinidad and Tobago, most recently donning the red and black at the 2015 World Taekwondo Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

For the pocket rocket with the powerhouse kick, Taekwondo has always been a family affair, with dad Derek and brother and fellow competition fighter, Brandon.

“I’ve been doing Taekwondo since I was 5,” says Melissa. “My father did it and as a child I would go to his classes and want to participate, so he signed me up.”

Melissa plans next “to compete in the Pan American Open in September and the Trinidad and Tobago Open in October” – always with her eye on Rio Olympics 2016. Though juggling pre-med full time while training, Melissa savors the challenge.

“The thing I love most about Taekwondo is the challenge,” says Melissa. “It’s a hard sport with grueling trainings, but nothing beats the sense of accomplishment when you get into the ring.”

Melissa also takes the same head-first attitude with her studies in cell and molecular biology, as she plans “on specializing in Obstetric, more specifically in Maternal Fetal Medicine” – a field she got hooked on ever since “I helped deliver my sister when she was born in 2008.”

Whatever great things the future may bring, Melissa still most treasures her first time competing under the Trinidad and Tobago banner.

“Both of my parents are from Trinidad, so I was extremely proud to represent my country of nationality,” says Melissa. “Although I live in the United States, I can make my family here in the U.S. and in Trinidad proud.”

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