|By O’Jay Cole, Journalist
Precious stones are not created under the friendliest conditions. Like diamonds that are formed under high temperatures and extreme pressure in the earth’s mantle so do we grow and become luminous when we’ve undergone the necessary training and jump hurdles in our quest to mastery. Here lies the profile of Chantelle Rochester, a fourth-year Communication Studies student who emphasises in Public Relations and is currently wrapping up her tenure as Director of Publications for the United Student’s Movement (USM) at Northern Caribbean University (NCU).
Rochester discovered her love for writing when she was a child. She would write cards to people no matter the occasion and create songs with her cousins for mini-concerts entertaining family members at celebrations. Her writing skills started to manifest seriously through school “I’ve had exceptional lecturers who taught me how to master the gymnastics of the English language this along with my love for reading has helped me fall in love with the art of writing” said Rochester.
Rochester’s dream was never aligned with Journalism nor the world of media. Her aspiration was to become a lawyer but that changed when she was introduced into media by Mr Andre Huie, a Jamaican who works in her native island of St Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis. Through him, she was exposed to writing and reporting news. “I realized then that story writing had a different structure than news writing, I had to learn fast but with God’s mercy I did,” said Rochester.
Her writing skills underwent refining as a student publisher for the Weekender Magazine, the official magazine of NCU operating from the Office of Student Services at NCU. A weekly magazine highlighting the news and affairs of the university. “I think working at the Office of Student Services under the tutelage of Mrs Carolyn Smith, Associate Vice President of Student Services took my writing a notch higher. She has a way of saying a lot without saying much and that was something I had to learn to do” said Rochester.
This experience helped to shape the young Journalist who now manages the United Student’s Movement official newspaper” The Hilltop Trumpet”. Among the many skills, she garnered while working at The Weekender was editing and proofreading which is critical as she is the editor and chief of The Hilltop Trumpet and is required to read and edit the works of Journalists from the NCU’s main campus along with its Eastern and Western campuses.
Her enrollment in the Department of Communication Studies (DCS) at NCU aided in being a driving force and catalyst through which her journalistic prowess was birthed. She expressed that her transition was not an easy one “I came in and had to unlearn everything I knew about the world of media and relearn it, I mean I was now pursuing a media degree in a country that’s considered the media giant of the Caribbean” said Rochester. She contemplated giving up but, with the help of her lecturers, she was able to excel with top tier grades and made her mark as a student editor and now Director of Publications for the USM.
Academically she challenged herself in preparation to become a better Journalist. “As a PR student I did advanced news writing and I finished the class with an A, that gave me the boost to venture a little more into Journalism”. said Rochester. Her journey has not been the best, amidst the rise to greatness, there were not so great circumstances. She recounted: “During my tenure here at NCU I had an unexpected loss in my family almost every semester. I lost two aunts, one cousin, one brother and my Father”. With the help of her DCS family, she was encouraged to press on and not give up despite the heartache. Her faith in God was also instrumental in getting her through “I had to trust that He will see me through and I promised my mother that I would pursue a career and get an education so I knew I couldn’t break that promise”.
A true jewel perfected under pressure, polished by her circumstances and now shines bright like a diamond. Over the course of four years, she has attained the following: Department of Communication Studies (DCS) Female Burgundy Jacket Holder, Director of Publication, United Student Movement, DCS Platinum Honoree, DCS Gold Scholar, Magma Cum Laude recipient for Academic Excellence and Byron Robinson Educational Foundation Award for Academic Excellence. “These achievements means that I serve a God who loves me and has my best interest at heart because I wouldn’t have been able to achieve them without him”
Chantelle Rochester’s contribution to the Weekender Magazine and The Hilltop Trumpet cements her as one of NCU’s most outstanding students elevating and strengthening the media presence on campus. As she prepares to exit university and graduate in August 2020 there is no doubt that she has left a stellar template for others to follow. Greatness perfected under pressure, the Journalistic Jewel, Miss Chantelle Rochester.