YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund launches careers

Internships and scholarships available in design, retail, journalism, computer science and business

2012 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund recipients Lee Nisson '14, Liya Kahan ’12, Ari Tretin ’12 and Amy Melser ’12 with 2011 winner Danielle Schivek ’11 and Paul Rosengard ’80, president of men’s apparel for LF USA and chairman emeritus of YMA FSF.

The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) has become a path to a career in the fashion industry for several recent Brandeis graduates.

Since Paul Rosengard ’80, president of men’s apparel for LF USA and the chairman emeritus of the FSF, arranged for the University’s participation in the program beginning in the 2010-11 academic year, seven Brandeis students have earned scholarships. All three of last year’s winners who graduated – Amy Melser ’12, Ari Tretin ’12 and Liya Kahan ’12 – work in the fashion industry. Returning student Lee Nisson ’14 was the fourth winner in 2011-12.

The prestigious program offers internships, mentoring and $5,000 scholarships for students interested in the business of fashion as a career.

An information session for interested students will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20 at the Hiatt Career Center conference room. For more information, email Caroline O’Shea, Hiatt’s assistant director of employer relations, or call 781-736-3621.

Each of the seven Brandeis students who have applied for the FSF program earned scholarships, which is believed to be a first.

Melser, who hails from Punta Gorda, Fla., works as a marketing and account coordinator with Market Connect Group (MCG), a division of Randa Accessories.

“Without the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund, and especially without the help and guidance of my incredible mentor, I would not be in this job today,” Melser says. “I am so grateful for the opportunities that the FSF has provided me.”

Melser’s responsibilities include editing copy, developing presentations, conducting research, updating MCG’s social media platforms and helping to ensure that the company’s 3,500 merchandisers in the field have the materials they need to service clients in stores.

Through the YMA FSF, Tretin landed a summer internship in the pottery studio at Jonathan Adler Enterprises, where he specialized in silicone and plastics. Because of the company’s growth, Tretin was needed in multiple departments. He now works full time in the operations and production area.

Tretin, who grew up in White Plains, N.Y., praised FSF’s summer “Breakfast with the Boss” event, which allowed scholarship recipients to participate in small-group mentoring/networking sessions with executives from companies like Nautica, Rocawear, Ralph Lauren, Doneger Group, LF USA, Dunning Golf and many more.

“If you are interested in business, fashion, art or design, this program is for you,” Tretin advises interested Brandeis students. “The application takes time, dedication, research, networking, and passion. Don't take it lightly.”

The YMA FSF program is open to Brandeis students with a demonstrated intent to pursue careers in design, merchandising, retailing, journalism, computer science or business. Only 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 member of the YMA FSF.

The YMA FSF 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.

“We thank Paul Rosengard for helping open the door to a career in business or fashion for Brandeis students,” O’Shea says. “This is a wonderful opportunity for students interested in these industries.”

Professor Alice Kelikian serves as the  chair for the scholarship. Other members of the advisory board include professors Tory Fair, Maura Jane Farrelly, Gary Jefferson and Grace Zimmerman; Joseph Du Pont, dean of the Hiatt Career Center; and O’Shea. Elaine Wong, senior associate dean of arts and sciences for undergraduate education, is also involved.

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