Melanie "Mia" Joyner

Hear Me Roar


March 2020 Issue
Photography by Jacie Elizabeth Millen

Melanie “Mia” Joyner
Age: 23
Lives in: Bluffton

Mia, you are a true international woman; you were adopted from another country! Tell us a little about it. I was born in Petrozavodsk, Russia. My grandmother took care of me until I was about 3 years old. Then I was put in an orphanage and lived there until I was adopted into a family with two loving parents, two older brothers, and one older sister, who lived in Charleston, SC.  My parents, Druid and Sam Joyner came to Russia to get me around my 5th birthday.

Job/ Education:
I attended Winthrop University for two and a half years and then took a semester off from school. I am now taking classes locally and working.

What is one of your favorite stories your family tells about you?
Around first grade, my family and some of our best friends went on a trip to Disney World in Florida. I fell in love with Disney and all the characters, but mostly Arial from the Little Mermaid. I was beyond excited to meet a real mermaid. When I went up to her I was in awe and reached out with my hand and said, “I love your hair” in my funny Russian accent.
Another story my family loves to tell is how I was obsessed with mermaids. One day I was talking to my mom and said: “Mom, Arial is a mermaid who wants to be a girl, and I’m a girl who wants to be a mermaid!” I’ve always loved mermaids, and who wouldn’t want to be one?

Do you think you have any remaining Russian tendencies?
I talk very fast, faster than most people, and I think it is because Russian is a fast language, and it has always stuck with me. I love drinking hot tea. I was given tea as a baby in a bottle. Russians drink tea as much, or even more, than they drink water.

Do you have any memories from your time before or during your adoption?
During my time at the orphanage, I was known to not mess around. If something was wrong, I wouldn’t go to just anyone, I would go to the head of the orphanage. During the time my parents were there, we went all around Russia, went to a play, went to many beautiful cathedrals and went to a park fair. I do not remember everything but I remember laughing and being happy.

Tell us a little about your family:
My father Sam is a pastor and has been for many years. At this time he is the head pastor at Grace Coastal Church. My mother, Druid, is one of the kindest people in the world. Ask anyone. My parents have a way of impacting every person they come in contact with, whether it’s friends of friends or complete strangers. My oldest brother Samuel recently opened his own dental practice in Charleston. He is married to Ruthie and they have Fitz, Byers and Patrick, my niece and nephews. My second older brother is Thomas who is the area director of Young Life for Beaufort County. Thomas and his wife Rebecca adopted their first child “Tee” and then later had their second child “Nan.” My older sister, Meriwether, has traveled around the country and world. She is a high school English teacher in Denver. I look up to her and her adventurous ways and hope to join her in the future.

What is your "go-to" me time activity?
I love to paint. I have always loved art and have taken many classes since I was young. Painting is a way for me to relax and also calms me down when I’m stressed. Another thing I love is taking baths. Baths are my way to unwind after a long day and help me to feel rested.

What is a goal you want to achieve in the next 5 years?
I want to finish college. I want to have a degree in something I love and can make a career out of. I plan on moving out of South Carolina for some time after I finish and have considered Nashville or Oahu, Hawaii.

What would you consider the perfect date?
I would say going to the beach. I love being by the water and hope to always live by the water. After an amazing beach day, it would be fun to go out to eat, or cook at home and have a restful night with a glass of wine.

Where is one place you’ve never been you really want to visit?
I have lived in a few different places such as Russia, Charleston, Hawaii, and now Bluffton, but I have always wanted to go to Greece and see all the beautiful places and water.

Name three things you never leave the house without:

My phone, a water bottle and chapstick.

What are you most grateful for?
I am most grateful for my adoption. Adoption is part of my family from my brother to my aunts and uncle and cousins, who have also adopted around the world. I was brought into a loving family where I have every opportunity to do anything I like. If I was still in Russia, I would not be as fortunate to be as blessed and cared for as I am here.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
Mamma Mia! I love the whole story and all the beautiful scenery. The music is one of my favorite parts of the movie. Another movie is Across the Universe. I love this movie because of the time it’s takes place (1960s) and the love story it tells, as well as all the music is from the Beatles.

If you could nail your dream job, what would it be?
I have always been in love with crime shows of any kind. If I could have any dream job, I would be an investigator. I love puzzles and putting all the clues together and have a knack for noticing details and changes. I find it fascinating, taking one piece and adding to it until you have what you’re looking for.

What do you love?

Morning or evening? Evening              Book or movie? Movie
Mountains or beach? Beach                Yoga pants or jeans? Yoga pants
Pasta or pizza? Pizza                          Bright or neutral colors? Neutral colors
Trip or staycation? Trip                       Skydiving or bungee jumping? Skydiving

What are you currently roaring about?
This year I am trying to “Do more in 2020.” I know this is usually most people’s goals for their year, but at this point in my life, I am focusing on me. I want to try more and different things. I want to travel. I want to push myself to say "yes" to anything that comes my way. I want to work hard in 2020 for the things I want that will make me happy.