Melissa Harrylal, our current Miss India Trinidad and Tobago, is a 21-year-old university student who is currently pursuing her BSc in Management Studies. She is a well-rounded, outgoing and funny person from the small, beautiful village of Piparo. Melissa is very passionate about dancing, animals and the environment. She is an advocate for abused women and children and currently works with a Non-profit organisation to help bring awareness to and help victims of abuse. Melissa hopes that one day, victims of abuse won’t be stigmatised and that they will be strong and feel safe enough to speak out against their abusers. As Melissa continues her reign as Miss India TT, we got to learn a little more about her. Check out her WE Mag interview:
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome in preparing for the Miss India TT competition?
I lost my sister to murder in August of 2017 and that for me is my biggest challenge that I still haven’t overcome. The week of the Miss India T&T finals, I actually cremated the remains of my sister and the morning of the competition is when I collected her ashes. I used that as motivation to do my best. It’s not easy to lose your sister or anyone like that. No one saw it coming, but if anyone is facing a similar situation, know that you have to keep moving forward. Do your best in everything, if not for you, do it for the one(s) you’ve lost.
Who are you inspired by?
Inspiration is not something that I have to look far for. Both my parents inspire me by their hard work and dedication to getting me everything I need. They taught me to always follow my dreams but remain humble as I grasp the stars.
Tell us something about you that people may not know?
There isn’t anything about my life that I keep hidden. I am an upfront, honest person and everyone who met me before will always have good things to say about me as I am overall, a really nice person (based on the opinions of everyone I’ve met and who got to know me).
What is something you know for sure that you wish the rest of us knew?
I wish everyone knew and understood the importance of speaking out for what is right. Speak out if you or someone you know is being abused in any way, speak out if you know of criminal activities taking place, speak out if you are being treated unjustly. It can save your life or the lives of people you know. Keeping bad things a secret will make situations worse.
For what are you most grateful?
I am most grateful for life, my extremely supportive family and all the opportunities available to me.
Why do you do what you do?
I hope to inspire young women like myself to follow their dreams and always put their best foot forward. I want them to know that there will be obstacles in their paths to success but they have to keep moving forward. I want to say to them also to never forget where they came from as remembrance of one’s past/background is what will take one forward in the future.
Story by Bavina Sookdeo