Fashion forward: VCU joins the prestigious YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund

A scene from the 2015 VCU student fashion show. Photo by Jay Paul.
A scene from the 2015 VCU student fashion show. Photo by Jay Paul.

An elite fashion industry association has granted membership to Virginia Commonwealth University, giving its fashion design and merchandising students opportunities for scholarships, internships and mentoring from established industry professionals. 

Membership in the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund is determined by reputation, said Karen M. Videtic, fashion merchandising professor in the VCU School of the Arts

“They recognized that the School of the Arts creates great designers, great artists, and that includes fashion,” she said. 

Notable alumni such as Donwan Harrell, founder of PRPS Jeans, and Kieran Donahue, vice president of marketing for the Americas at Hilton Worldwide, help boost VCU’s reputation. 

The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund, an international nonprofit, brings together influential industry insiders from companies such as Vera Wang, Bloomingdales and Levi Strauss & Co. The exclusive group — comprising more than 45 member schools — only admitted four schools, including VCU, this year. 

Membership creates opportunities for students who have full-time jobs or must take a semester off to complete an internship. In addition, the fashion fund allows students to gain experience with highly ranked fashion designers. 

The association awards four $30,000 and four $10,000 scholarships each year in addition to an average of 100 $5,000 scholarships — all based on merit. Member schools each nominate 10 students to apply. Applicants must complete a case study in fashion design or merchandising. 

VCU selects its applicants through a competition, Videtic said. Interested students submit abstracts of a case study, which a board of faculty then reviews, nominating the 10 best responses. 

In January, winners will attend an awards ceremony in New York, with all expenses paid. Students then meet with recruiters from supporting brands such as Geoffrey Beene, Perry Ellis and Ralph Lauren the following day. 

“Each student hands a résumé out, and speaks with someone from HR at all these companies,” Videtic said. “[It’s an] amazing number of companies. 

 You can see that the relationships they can develop over a summer working at a company would be significant to launching their careers.

 “Many of these students would never be able to afford to spend a summer in New York City. … And you can see that the relationships they can develop over a summer working at a company would be significant to launching their careers.” 

YMA FSF membership associates VCU with an elite group of fashion schools such as Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology, and provides students an opportunity to gain insights from established professionals in the industry. 

“We’re ranked with the best fashion schools in the nation,” Videtic said. “That’s certainly a feather in our cap.”

 

Feature image at top: A scene from the 2015 VCU student fashion show. Photo by Jay Paul. 

 

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A scene from the 2015 VCU student fashion show. Photo by Jay Paul.
A scene from the 2015 VCU student fashion show. Photo by Jay Paul.