Advice to give college students

My name is Katherine Ospino and I am a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. I majored in fashion merchandising and minored in general business. My interest in fashion began ever since I was a small child. I would sit by my grandmother during the afternoons and I would watch her sew. She is a great seamstress. She can sew almost anything you ask her and she will do it to perfection. My grandmother is one of the main reasons why I became fascinated with the fashion world. To me, fashion is more than just clothes, jewelry and handbags. It is an art – a creative outlet in which a person can express themselves through what he or she wears. Currently, I work in the retail environment and I’m in the process of relocating to Miami, Florida. I also work in fashion styling and fashion blogging during my free time.

Just like many students out there who are pursuing their undergraduate or graduate degree, I always get asked the same question, why did you choose your degree? For me, fashion has always been a major part of my life and it has influenced me since an early age. My grandmother, who is a great seamstress, has been one of my biggest influencers when it comes to fashion. I would watch her sew all kinds of garments from casual dresses to the most creative ensembles for Halloween. The passion she exuded for sewing and for fashion has always remained with me. As a child, I loved being creative and chose fashion as one of those creative outlets. I believe that fashion is more than just clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories, it is a way of expressing oneself through what one chooses to wear on a daily basis. When I chose to enroll myself in the field of Fashion Merchandising at Virginia Commonwealth University, I was full of excitement but I was also highly uncertain as to what to expect. As I began each semester, I found out what my degree was all about. The field of Fashion Merchandising offers you a way to learn about all of the different aspects of the fashion industry that range from the creative to the business side. You learn about the extensive history of fashion, how to become a buyer, product development, fashion forecasting, marketing, branding, retail math, Photoshop and Illustrator among much more. It definitely is a lot of late nights researching and completing a wide variety of group projects that leave you wondering why you even chose this path in the first place. Trust me, it is all worth it at the end. You learn to work hard and not give up. At the end of the road, you are left with knowledge in a wide variety of aspects of the fashion industry and you even learn a bit of the accounting and marketing worlds. For those students out there who are considering possibly pursuing a fashion degree, whether it is Fashion Merchandising or design, I recommend conducting thorough research on the schools and curriculums you are considering. Every college and university out there offers different programs in terms of fashion. Some orient themselves more towards the creative side, while others focus more on the business of fashion. Just remember, it is always good to seek the help of counselors and alumni from these institutions in order to gain the utmost knowledge possible before making a decision of what school to attend and what degree to choose. I also highly recommend engaging in internships while in school. You can gain a good deal of experience during internships and make great connections.

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