Music Student Chases Dream of Opera Stardom
As the daughter of Haitian immigrants who came to this country to build a better life, Melissa Joseph prepared early to get a high-paying job, even if it meant doing something she didn’t love.
Then her acceptance letter from Georgia State University’s School of Music arrived, along with a generous financial aid package that covered all her expenses. In an instant, she went from economist to opera singer.
“I think I was meant to come here,” said Joseph, a rising junior majoring in vocal performance. “All the schools I applied to were for economics except Georgia State. I figured if I stayed in state I would pursue what I loved.”
Joseph is the first generation in her family to attend college and she has made it her mission to try as many new things and meet as many new people as she can while she’s at Georgia State.
She has sung the national anthem at a basketball game, performed onstage in numerous operas and studied in Italy, something that significantly helps in a career where much of the singing is done in Italian.
“Without Georgia State I would be pulling my hair out doing economics in Washington, D.C.,” she said, “and I wouldn’t be as independent, bold or fearless as I have become. Those are attributes I’ve learned from the people I’ve met here.”
Georgia State has reshaped her aspirations in ways she never dreamed.
“Being at Georgia State has opened so many doors to so many experiences that I never even considered 10 years ago,” said Joseph, a student in the Honors College.
Joseph showed promise from the very first time she sung for faculty, said Kay Paschal, who has mentored her as a vocal instructor and artist in residence at the School of Music.
Her voice filled the room as much as her enthusiasm and she has blossomed since then.
“As she continued to grasp the concepts of singing and we got her sound much more focused, I said, ‘Melissa, I need to let you know you’ve got a world-class voice inside of you,’” Paschal said. “I don’t think there’s any limits on what she can do.”
Joseph studies music technique and theory relentlessly, is learning foreign languages to better portray the emotions of her characters and traveling to competitions near and far to hone her skills.
Simply put, she’s aiming high.
“My dream is to make my debut at Carnegie Hall or The Metropolitan Opera,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of doubts in myself, but I want to push myself to see how far I can actually go.”
This article is part of Generation Georgia State, a series that highlights the academic, personal and career accomplishments of Georgia State students, alumni, faculty and staff who are the first in their families to attend college.