Merchandising professor is ‘on fire for God,’ follows calling to pour into students

Dr. Rochelle Brunson, clinical associate professor in apparel merchandising, demonstrates God's love to her students. Roundup file photo

By Abigail Gan | Staff Writer

Dr. Rochelle Brunson’s history with merchandising and Baylor goes back a long way. Brunson, who is a clinical associate professor in apparel merchandising, said her grandparents worked at the Baylor Bookstore — her grandfather as a manager and her grandmother in the apparel and gift area.

“In the summers, I would come here and they would let me work free,” Brunson said. “I would get to make the T-shirts; people would pick out a logo on the wall. … I think I just started to love retail then.”

Brunson came into college at Baylor studying drama but changed her major multiple times before leaving for a year with the intention of coming back.

“I took some classes in textiles and fashion merchandising at another college,” Brunson said. “I loved it, and I realized that I love people. I love selling. I love helping people. And that was it.”

Brunson said apparel merchandising will always be a people business, and though she was always passionate about helping others, she wasn’t originally going to be a professor.

“I was going to be in retail. I wanted to be a buyer and go to New York,” Brunson said. “And a few months before I was going to go, I prayed about it, and I woke up the next morning, and it was just very clear. God said, ‘I want you to teach at the college level.'”

That day, Brunson went to tell the dean she was supposed to teach at the college level. She said the dean told her she would need a master’s and doctoral degree.

“When you hear God tell you to do something, you do it,” Brunson said.

Brunson said the draw to her position and the work she does is the relationships — both with businesses as the internship coordinator and with students. She said she still meets over Zoom with a former student who graduated two years ago and is working at Nike, and she has students from 15 years ago who visit as well. Brunson said her students tell her she is a blessing to them, and she feels the same way.

“God is just using me,” Brunson said. “I don’t think they realize how much of a blessing they are to me.”

Dr. Briana Martinez, assistant professor of apparel merchandising, said she has never met a faculty member who gives back to and cares more for her students than Brunson does.

“She was here until 9:30 p.m. last night helping students trying to get in classes still,” Martinez said. “I mean, she will bend over backward. The impact she has on students in the classroom lasts way beyond the classroom. … It’s just pure care about them, about their development.”

Martinez said Brunson is full of life and joy and would be someone’s “ride or die.”

“She has a very lively, fun, charismatic personality,” Martinez said. “She’s on fire for God. She’s caring. She is funny — probably to a fault. I cannot sit next to her in faculty meetings. If you are stuck in the middle of somewhere late at night and you need someone to call, Dr. Brunson is the one to call.”