Haiti has faced numerous trials and tribulations. Four unforgiving tropical cyclones in 2008, a devastating earthquake in 2010, and political turmoil are just some of the difficulties the country has faced in the last 20 years. However, despite hardships, Florida International University graduates like Anne Michaelle Roche MIB ’21 have persevered and given back to their communities in meaningful ways.
In 2017, after surviving an earthquake, Roche emigrated from Haiti to South Florida at the age of 18. She found opportunity in Miami’s international business education environment to pursue her graduate studies at FIU.
Immediately following the completion of her master’s degree in international business in 2021, Roche started working for Island TV, a Miami-based television network. Since Island TV’s inception in 1996, it has been a vital source of information, education, and entertainment for the Haitian diaspora. The network is the only television network in the United States offering 24-hour programming in English, French, and Haitian Creole.
Roche’s deep-rooted connection to the Haitian culture, her leadership, and her charisma have played an important role in engaging with stakeholders including a new generation of viewers.
Anne credits her mother, who is an example of hard work and determination as a woman in business, for helping her develop those important qualities. Additionally, she credits her internship at the Marriott International Port-au-Prince Hotel and her master’s project at FIU for developing the intense work ethic she’s needed to pursue her career. It’s a career that allows her to make a tangible difference in her community by bringing her insight and expertise into conversation with Haitian American advocates and professionals.
To bring more awareness to the Haitian community, Roche connected the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum and Island TV to collaborate on “Everything Earth and Sky,” a four-month-long exhibition featuring the museum’s Haitian paintings from the 1980s and 1990s, one of the largest of such collections in the U.S.
“Even if I came to FIU wanting to focus on global affairs, I had to remind myself that we live in an interconnected world, so it’s necessary to stay informed on what’s going on in your home country,” Roche explained. Her experience as an immigrant in Miami has been an eye-opening lesson in multiculturalism and finding a common ground among diverse perspectives. Because of this, getting to work on the exhibit was a culturally enriching experience, which benefits Haitian youth.
“I was very happy to learn that Haitian elementary schools were visiting the Haitian Exhibition,” Roche said, adding the effort nurtures confidence in the youth “when they see their culture being displayed in such an honorable way.”
Her work has facilitated beneficial partnerships for FIU and its supporters alike. Roche explained that she and Island TV “introduced philanthropists like Dr. Prinston Jean-Glaude – Chair of the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Florida (HACCOF) to the FIU Foundation, which then resulted in a generous endowment to FIU’s College of Medicine.” As well, in partnership with the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA), Island TV has facilitated the first creole language journalism program in the United States.
Tamara B. Rodriguez, the CFO of Island TV and a mentor to Roche, called FIU one of several “important partners… that are being intentional about investing in the Haitian community – one of the fastest growing communities in South Florida.” She added that Island TV is excited about working with Dean Brian Schriner and that “some of the students of CARTA are already experiencing real life TV productions at our studios or during off-site reporting assignments.”
Roche has called Rodriguez an influential force that taught her the importance of being a community leader, and Rodriguez has similarly praised Roche’s character, saying that she “is the gold standard in stakeholder engagement – she is proactive and always follows through. I know that Anne’s motivation is rooted in her deep love for the Caribbean culture but also because of her work ethic and desire for success.”
Through continued engagement with the Alumni Association and the Frost Art Museum, Roche affirms her voice as a community leader and continues to live FIU’s mission of community engagement with local and global communities as a proud Panther.
In terms of what’s next in her professional career, Roche is focused on attaining a certificate in foster care training. “Having lost my father in the 2010 Haiti earthquake, I am aware of the hardships that children in foster care can face and always felt a strong impulse to help other orphans,” she said.