Fashion award winners honored at New York soiree

Nine Brandeisians have won since 2010-11

From left, this year's winners Jose Kim ’13 and Demi Su '14; Paul Rosengard ’80, president of men’s apparel for LF USA and the chairman emeritus of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund; and previous winners Liya Kahan ’12 and Amy Melser ’12.

It was a fashion industry event, but Jose Kim ’13 and Demi Su ’14 were not about to show up fashionably late.

The students joined some of the biggest names in fashion at the 2013 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund awards dinner on Jan. 8. The event, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, honored 125 students from around the county who’d won $5,000 scholarships.

Nearly 1,000 people attended the annual event, which honored Lanvin Artistic Director Alber Elbaz and other industry luminaries and raised $1.9 million to support YMA’s fashion scholarship, mentoring and internship programs.

“At first it was a little intimidating to be with all of these fashion industry leaders,” Kim said, “but they were so gracious and so happy for us that we had won the scholarships.”

The evening began with a networking session before the scholarship winners entered the grand ballroom school by school to sit at a giant T-shaped table.

“It was really amazing,” Kim said. “It felt like we were center stage. They really seem to care about the next generation.”

Kim has been around the fashion industry for much of his life; his parents own Alpelo, a wholesale women’s clothing business in his hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“I have been exposed to the entire process, all the way from suppliers to the distribution methods,” he said. “Throughout the years I have also had different opportunities to help the stylists on developing a men’s fashion line.”

He was thrilled to win the YMA fashion scholarship because of the networking and mentoring opportunities it provides to the winners.

“Even though the scholarship has a monetary advantage, the opportunity to know more people in the industry and broaden my network makes me very excited,” said Kim, who hopes to work in men’s fashion, interior design or marketing. “I believe that this award is a jump start to a career in the industry.”

Su, a business and economics major who grew up in China, plans to work on the business side of the industry. She has interned at the Ports 1961 fashion house and at a fashion magazine.

Her reaction to winning the scholarship? “I felt so happy,” she said. “I know my hard work has paid off!”

Since Paul Rosengard ’80, president of men’s apparel for LF USA and the chairman emeritus of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund, arranged for Brandeis’ participation in the program beginning in the 2010-11 academic year. Nine students have earned scholarships so far.

“Brandeis students continue their tradition of excelling as compared to their peers at schools from FIT and Parsons to Santa Clara and Harvard,” Rosengard said. “No other school has enjoyed better success converting applicants to scholarship winners!”

All three of last year’s winners who graduated – Amy Melser ’12, Ari Tretin ’12 and Liya Kahan ’12 – work in the industry. (Lee Nisson ’14 was the fourth winner in 2011-12). Ji Yun Lee ’11, Abigail Katznelson ’11, MA ’12, and Danielle Schivek ’11 received scholarships in 2011; Lee and Schivek are employed by fashion-related companies.

The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund 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.

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

Brandeis is one of 41 educational institutions nationwide selected to participate in the competition. Other participating schools include the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell and New York University.

Professor Alice Kelikian served as the chair for the scholarship advisory board at Brandeis, which included professors Tory Fair, Maura Jane Farrelly and Grace Zimmerman; Joseph Du Pont, dean of the Hiatt Career Center; and Caroline O’Shea, Hiatt’s assistant director of employer relations.

“The fashion scholarship not only gives our students internships of consequence in the industry; this vibrant program provides matchless mentoring opportunities and rare access to employment in American manufacture and design,” Kelikian said.

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