By Alex Popa
Joanel Joseph is a first-generation Haitian American. He was born and raised in the US, but his parents are from Ganthier. Joanel was born in Brooklyn, New York, and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. Sports are his life’s passion, especially rugby. His athletic prowess speaks for itself since Joanel already has some impressive achievements to talk about. He’s played Division 1 rugby in school and is currently working with other athletes to coach young players.
Joanel is no longer on the field, but he’s still very much invested in the sport. He hopes to discover and support young talent. He tells us he wants to take Haitian rugby to the next level and is working hard to see his goals become a reality. When asked about his inspiration in life, Joanel told us: “My family inspires me, especially my parents. Rugby is also a major part of my life, and I am motivated to help create a Haitian national team.”
Haitian Pride in the USA
Joanel Joseph grew up in a multicultural environment. He was exposed to the American way of life throughout his childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. But his Haitian heritage is still a major part of his life. His Haitian parents always upheld traditional Haitian values at home. Joanel was immersed in Haitian culture through his parents’ teachings about Haitian history, folklore, and tradition.
He now feels a strong connection to his heritage and takes pride in his background. Not only that, but his cultural education has also influenced his worldview in many positive ways. “My parents always valued education, hard work, and resilience. I subconsciously adopted the same values. Cultivating these values has helped me see the world with a sympathetic and open mindset.”
Dreams and Career Goals
After earning his BS in economics from Penn State University, Joanel has been working as a part-time contractor. However, he tells us he has higher aspirations: “It’s a good job, but my dream career is becoming a full-time entrepreneur.” He hopes to one day own a property and be invested in at least two businesses. He believes that with careful planning, hard work, and diligence, he can achieve his goals within the next few years.
Besides his entrepreneurial goals, Joanel also wants to be a major contributor to Haitian rugby. He wants to build and support the first Haitian national rugby team. He’s already taken some steps in this direction. “I was part of a successful camp in Boston, MA, for the first Haitian national rugby team. This was a major stepping stone in hopefully launching the program.”
Advice for Fellow Haitians
Joanel has words of encouragement for young Haitians: “Be resilient, have faith, and hold on to your values. Most importantly, always remember that change is possible.” He believes that the right attitude and the confidence to seize any opportunity can help people turn their lives around. In his eyes, anything is possible. Joanel also strives to support his fellow Haitians in more tangible ways. As he’s shared: “I support foundations that help create outlets and opportunities for the Haitian youth. I also try to promote NGOs and charities that bring resources to the workers and youth in Haiti.”