When you are a young Millennial transplant in Memphis, it’s always nice to go home – especially when home is the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. And when you’ve given your hometown something to be proud of, even better.
TSD freelance correspondent Terrisa C. Mark returned home to her island nation earlier this month, leaving behind chilly autumn winds for the warm tropical breeze of Trinidad & Tobago. And her home church hosted a ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of Mark and her brother Machael in the United States.
“Congratulations, you did amazing!” was the oft-repeated sentiment during a graduation/career homecoming ceremony at her home church at St. Thomas Baptist in south Trinidad.
At the age of 19, Terrisa and Machael were recruited to run track at Wiley College, a historically black college in Marshall, Texas. It was thrilling news to parents George and Margaret Mark,
“I was extremely proud when I received the news that not one, but both of my children were leaving for the United States on a scholarship to run and gain an education,” said George Mark, a tailor and avid sports fan.
Within a year at Wiley, the siblings earned presidential honors for their outstanding performances in both the classroom and on the track. Each of the next three years, Terrisa and Machael made it to the National Championships and earned All- American honors. Both Machael and Terrisa graduated summa cum laude from Wiley in 2017.
“It was an amazing feeling to be there and see that they came to a foreign land, remained focused and excelled,” George Mark said.
Machael returned to Trinidad to become a biology lab assistant. Meanwhile, Terrisa pursued and earned a masters degree in journalism from the University of Miami , where she became the anchor at the University’s television station. That’s where she learned the theoretical and practical skills to become a reporter.
After graduation, Terrisa was offered a freelance position from Trinidad and Tobago to be a reporter at the Pan American games in Lima, Peru. Later, she moved in with her aunt Marlene Carabi in Memphis – who gave her niece good career advice.
“I knew my niece was an upcoming journalist,” Carabi said. “And someone mentioned to me that The New Tri-State Defender would be an amazing place to work.”
Terrisa met with TSD associate publisher and executive editor Dr. Karanja Ajanaku, and has covered several stories since as a freelance sports and news videographer and reporter.
Terrisa would return home to Trinidad in December to celebrate her graduation and receiving her first job out of college. At St. Thomas, the day was filled with music and memories, as church members shared fond memories and well-wishes for both Machael and Terrisa Mark.
Besides the recent homecoming event at church, family, friends and neighbors were planning for another celebration at the family home on Christmas Day.
“I am so extremely happy and proud for Sister Mark,” said Pastor Robert Dash of St. Thomas Baptist. “(We’re proud) to see her develop to be such an incredible media personality on the international level.”