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Marist Shines at Fashion Scholarship Awards Gala

Marist at YMA awards

Marist fashion students, faculty, and senior College administrators at the YMA FSF Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria. Marist students won eight awards, including one of four top prizes, a $30,000 scholarship.

NEW YORK -- When the stars of the New York fashion world gathered at the Waldorf Astoria in early January to honor industry leaders present and future, Marist students were front and center.

The YMA FSF Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards, among the industry’s most prestigious competitions, drew entrees from the country’s top 41 fashion and business programs, including Harvard, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Savannah College of Art & Design, in addition to Marist.

By night’s end, Marist students had captured six $5,000 scholarships, one $10,000 scholarship, and one of only four $30,000 Geoffrey Beene Scholarship awards, which went to Nicole Rodgers, a junior fashion design major from Byfield, Mass. The New York Times mentioned Marist in its coverage of the event, which also featured industry achievement awards for designers and others.

To succeed in the scholarship competition, students had to demonstrate both fashion and business savvy in a case study that called for the creation of a pop-up shop for a fashion retailer that incorporates the latest technology. Scholarships were awarded based entirely on merit, taking into consideration the applicants' GPAs, the completion of a case study project, a personal essay detailing their aspirations, job experience, community service and how the scholarship money would be spent, and an interview with a YMA Fashion Scholarship Foundation (FSF) Ambassador.

“I could not be more pleased with the hard work and well-earned success of our students and the superb mentoring of these students by the fashion faculty,” said Fashion Program Director Radley Cramer, who, along with several members of the fashion faculty and members of the College’s senior administration, turned out to support the scholarship winners. “These students will become the next leaders of the fashion industry.“

With eight winners overall, Marist’s showing at this year’s event was its best ever. In terms of total awards among the 41 schools, it finished behind only Cornell University, which had nine winners. Relative to the size, however, Marist had the most winners among the field. 

Marist winners were: Maria Catalano, a sophomore fashion design major from Collegeville, Penn.; Kellie-Anne Cerini, a junior fashion design major from Nesconset, N.Y.; Philippa Hatch, a junior fashion design and fashion merchandising double major from Middletown, Md.; Jill Hub, a sophomore fashion design major from Pompton Plains, N.J.; Dana Liu, a junior fashion design major from Northport, N.Y.; Paige Palermo, a senior fashion merchandising major from Saugus, Mass., who won $10,000 in recognition for her being one of the top six applicants with the highest overall rating of their proposals; Marrisa Wilson, a sophomore fashion design major from Howell, N.J.; and Nicole Rodgers.

Because of the prestige of the YMA/FSF Geoffrey Beene awards, Cramer said, their ultimate worth to the winners goes well beyond their dollar value. “Scholarship winners are sought after by leading fashion companies. They participate in a variety of events and internships that put them in direct contact with industry leaders. At the top level, the Geoffrey Beene award, the visibility for the student is even greater.” Nicole Rodgers

Just mid-way through her junior year at Marist, Nicole Rodgers (pictured, right) has already studied in two European fashion capitals (Florence and Paris), interned at two top fashion houses (Kenneth Cole and Donna Karan), and twice won YMA/FSF honors, including this year’s top prize, the $30,000 Geoffrey Beene Scholarship. 

“I chose Marist because of the great opportunities it presents,” Nicole says. What sets Marist apart from other fashion schools is the well-rounded liberal arts education that fashion students are receiving along with their degree.”

As a high school student in Byfield, Nicole was always creatively inclined. Fashion drew her interest because it provides an opportunity for everyone to be creative in their own way every day, in all circumstances. “What I love about fashion is that you are creating an outlet for people to express themselves. Every morning, people wake up and make a choice, whether consciously or subconsciously, as to how they want to be perceived through the clothing they are wearing.”

Nicole participated in the summer pre-college fashion design summer course the summer before her freshman year. Through that experience, she says, she grew as a designer and realized that fashion was her true passion. Last year, she won Marist’s Sophomore Design Award and the YMA/FSF Scholarship, which made her eligible to be nominated by the Marist Fashion Program as a candidate for this year's Geoffrey Beene Scholarship.

Her winning concept focused on sustainability throughout the entire product life cycle. Her case study retailer, Verden, addresses issues starting with the creative process all the way through sourcing ethical materials, to producing the garments, to choosing sustainable options within the pop-up store itself.