We are the culture

It is not what we are called, but what we do, that defines our roles as communicators

Chantal Rochelle inspired "We are the Culture" mural

Recently, I interviewed Chantal Rochelle with the goal of creating a social media post for the Moody College Instagram channel. During the brief 18-minute encounter, which was also produced as a podcast, I was struck by her passion, focus and clarity.

It was immediately apparent that her story could not be distilled into a few pulled quotes, because in many ways, her story serves as the blueprint of success for a Moody student.

Rochelle is a Moody College graduate, but as she says, she cannot be described by a single title.

And neither can we.

Yet for many of us attending college, we feel bound by the title of student. We forget that our identities span beyond classrooms, assignments and assessments.

We are workers, artists, friends and people navigating the current confusing state of the world.

It is not what we are called, but what we do, that defines our roles as communicators. Rochelle says above all, she is a vessel. And as communicators, we too share that duty to be a vessel, absorbing the ideas and voices of those around us to serve causes greater than ourselves.

Chantal Rochelle photograph

Listen to Chantal's complete interview on the Moody Talks podcast

Communication is not linear. We are not shouting into the void and hoping someone will listen. We are collaborating with our peers, figuring out the causes that matter to us, and making statements powerful enough to start conversation.

Rochelle created Cocoa Butter, a Black culture and content entertainment vertical, not with the intent to become a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree. She saw the lack of representation of her community, and instead of waiting for change, she made it herself.

It is when we put aside our ego and find the cause that drives us to create that we truly flourish, because, as Rochelle said, the path to success and self-fulfillment will not come without discomfort.

Oftentimes, the topics we feel more comfortable avoiding need the most attention, and we have to believe that if the message is sent with meaning and purpose, good things will come as a result of the hard work invested.

“Why don’t I see diversity of skin tones in the media?”

“Why do minorities have to be the supporting cast but never the lead?”

“Why can’t I talk about the issues that matter to me the most?”

If you begin to ask these questions and those around you appear uncomfortable -- keep pushing. It’s through our discomfort that we grow.

Rochelle’s journey to excellence took time, effort and immense support from her peers. But it is because she persisted and refused to take no for an answer that she is hailed as one of the top young communicators of the year.

The things in life that come easy are never truly worthwhile, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. So if it’s taking time to find your place – persist, don’t resist against the challenge.

We will make it. We will emerge as our most excellent selves, when we truly understand how to use our lives for the good of all.

Madison Zialu
Presidential Scholar, Brand Storytelling Intern