Fashion-focused students win scholarships, mentoring

All Brandeis' candidates are accepted, for second straight year

YMA Fashion Scholarship winners are, from left, Liya Kahan ’12, Lee Nisson '14, Amy Melser ’12 and Ari Tretin ’12.

Four Brandeis students have won $5,000 scholarships from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF). It is  the second consecutive year that all of the university’s applicants for the prestigious honor were selected.

In addition to the scholarships, Liya Kahan ’12, Amy Melser ’12, Lee Nisson ’14 and Yehuda “Ari” Tretin ’12 are eligible for summer internships and will have access to career mentoring services. They will be honored, along with the other scholarship recipients at a gala dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York Jan. 10.

Paul Rosengard '80, president of men’s apparel for Li & Fung USA and chairman emeritus of  the scholarship fund, helped involve his alma mater with the program for the first time in 2010. Participating schools include Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Virginia, Parsons, and about 30 other leading institutions.

“Brandeis students have fared well in the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund competition for three simple reasons: talent, effort and organization,” Rosengard said. “Brandeis students are just flat out smart, so I had an expectation that their applications would be strong. Second, their applications reflect great time and effort. Being smart is seldom enough to achieve greatness. Finally, the administration and faculty involved have done a phenomenal job of promoting awareness and coaching the applicants through the process.”

The four winners:

Liya Kahan ’12, Rome, Italy – She wants to work in styling because it fits her interest in putting together an ensemble of clothing. “I enjoy doing this for myself, and would love to do it for a living because it is something I am passionate about,” Kahan says. She is excited about the opportunity that the FSF scholarship has provided her to break into  the fashion industry.

Amy Melser ’12, Punta Gorda, Fla. – After graduation, she hopes to work in fashion journalism, advertising, marketing or public relations. In the summer of 2011, Melser was as an accessories intern at Conde Nast’s Lucky magazine, and in summer 2010 she interned at a fashion/beauty magazine in London. She has also served as a “style guru” for the College Fashionista website.

Lee Nisson ’14, Denver – He wants to pursue a fashion career in the area of sales, business planning or marketing. He has worked at Man’s World, his grandfather’s clothing store for short and stout men. “He taught me a lot about the clothing industry before he closed his doors and retired,” Lee said. “It’s an experience I still hold onto.”

Yehuda “Ari” Tretin ’12, White Plains, N.Y. – He is unsure whether he will get into the business side or the design side of the industry. “I am a sculpting major and I need to be dabbling in the arts and the creative,” Tretin says. He currently works as a sales associate in both men’s and women’s product lines for Cole Haan on Newbury Street in Boston.

The application process was coordinated by Joseph Du Pont, dean of the Hiatt Career Center. Professor Alice Kelikian served as chair of a faculty selection committee that included Talinn Grigor and Detlev Suderow '70, P'05. The committee members, along with professors Maura Jane Farrelly and Grace Zimmerman, also advised interested applicants. In addition, Elaine Wong, senior associate dean of arts and sciences for undergraduate education, participated in the process.

"Our students’ extraordinary success in the fashion scholarship competition can be attributed to Brandeis having talented liberal arts students with a global perspective,” Suderow said. “During the case-study portion of the application process, they focus on a business opportunity and use their critical-thinking skills to reach a creative solution."

“Our debt of gratitude to Paul Rosengard is great,” Kelikian said. “He brought the YMA scholarship initiative to the attention of our undergraduates and unearthed a wealth of design and entrepreneurial talent on campus. The very breadth of this year’s projects, ranging from sustainable textiles to made-to-measure clothing, speaks to the vitality of fashion and business culture at Brandeis.”

The program is open to Brandeis students with a demonstrated intent to pursue careers in design, merchandising, retailing, journalism, computer science or business. Sophomores, juniors and first-semester seniors with at least a 3.0 grade-point average are eligible. Applicants need to complete a case study and be interviewed by a representative of the fashion scholarship fund.

The fund awards about 125 $5,000 scholarships each year and also administers the Geoffrey Beene National Scholarships, which hands out four $30,000 scholarships and four $10,000 awards annually.

"The YMA FSF program helps open the door to a career in business or fashion for Brandeis students,” Du Pont said. “Many Brandeis alumni are leaders in the fashion industry in areas such as design, strategic planning, business development and management.”

One of last year’s winners, Ji Yun Lee ’11, landed a full-time job in the fashion industry within a few months of graduating from Brandeis. She works as an assistant brand manager at Li & Fung USA in New York, where she helps develop and implement a marketing strategy for  men’s accessories such as shoes, handbags and small leather goods. Among her responsibilities is coordinating the brand’s social media outreach.

“FSF does a great job of connecting you with people in the industry,” said Lee, a native of Korea who was raised in Beijing. “You get opportunities you would not normally get. I am very fortunate to be working for Li & Fung in the fashion hub of the world.”

Last year’s other winners were Abigail Katznelson '11, M.A.'12, and Danielle Schivek '11.

Categories: Alumni, Business, Student Life

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