Today I wanted to share why I chose Kent State University’s Fashion School.
For those who don’t know my name is Halimah. I’m a student and designer of fashion and I want to use art to spark change- Change in myself. Change in my community. Change in the world.
Styles gives me an outlet to express myself. I love creating work that means something. I want to build a brand that speaks to the desire and hearts of young women. That produces clothing that allows them a means to dress themselves how they desire to and not how they feel they have HAVE to. I want to show the potential, beauty, impact and power of modest fashion. I want to tell stories. One day I dream of having children of my own and I like to think that I would be conscious enough to tell them things like, they’re certain decisions you will make in your life that feel as if they will change everything. The type of decisions that ignite something in you no one is capable of dimming. That propel you forward in a way that make you feel in the zone. That remind you that you have a purpose.
I told myself my junior year of high school. that I wasn’t going to go along with the plans I had to study law and go to college with my friends. No. “I’m going to go to fashion school. I don’t know where, and I may be a lone. but this feels like a calling… it feels like destiny feels like God. Feels like a call I don’t have a choice not to answer”.
So on this journey choosing Kent State was one of those life changing decisions. I wanted to go to a school that specialized in my major. Hey, college would be a sacrifice and if I was going to go for fashion. I wanted to go all out and make all the support, sacrifices and overtime hours invested worth it. I wanted it to be close to home. I’ve always dreamed of traveling but the farther away the more expensive.
and hey why give your Dad a heart attack if you don’t HAVE to. Cost was very important. Cause where I come from college is a privilege, financial aid is expected to apply for and scholarships are not a bonus but a necessity.
Once I started researching fashion schools I realized that portfolios were important things and talent and skill in drawing and construction were important. I felt very uneasy and frustrated. I asked myself, “how are you going to do this? You can’t draw or sew.” I wanted to sulk in the memory of how early I knew I was passionate about design. I wanted to sulk in all the moments I could have learned the skills necessary to be ready for these fashion school applications but, I couldn’t get sucked into all that. Regardless of the lack of experience or preparation I knew I could be a fashion designer! I knew I could do this! God told me that!
But no matter how many times I told myself that it seemed like everywhere wanted a portfolio. A portfolio I didn’t know how to make and would probably set me back at least a year to gain enough skill to figure out how to even complete.
Then I came across Kent State University it was really close to home, it was on the less expensive side, because it was a public university and it simultaneously managed being a public university with an incredible fashion design program. So it afforded this best of both worlds college experience with a “real” fashion school art experience. I loved the curriculum of the design program. I appreciated how your freshmen year you jump right into your design classes. The application process didn’t require a portfolio and I loved how that consequently afforded a girl like me with a dream but not a breathtaking portfolio the opportunity to train and study their a shot. I was in awe of the fashion library in high school. I would spent countless hours in my local library scoping and finding fashion books to read and study from so the idea that they had a library on campus solely devoted to JUST THAT gave me goose bumps I was so excited. It was a fashion museum where my love of history and fashion blended right next door. There was a fashion school store where design students got to experience producing merchandise for sale and merchandising students could experience selling merchandise. They had several study abroad programs in places like Hong Kong, Paris, Florence and New York City.
Having campuses in Italy and New York allowed an accessible international or NYC fashion school experience even while attending a school in OHIO. I was excited about the serious nature of their required internships and how the students are supported in preparing for their professional career with great connections and a specific internship liaison. I loved the products coming from the school.
Then I finally had the opportunity to visit the school. My junior year I went for a multi-cultural visit day. I think the stars must have been aligned or something like that because of course my tour guide was a black girl like me, she was a fashion major like I wanted to be, and she was even from my home state! I learned that although I was willing to go to a completely unfamiliar new environment, no matter what challenges that would bring there was a community of people who were willing and able to support me. Once I stepped foot on campus I knew I was going there. I didn’t need to visit any other school on my list. I was in love and when I say in love I don’t mean it was perfect. I don’t mean that I didn’t think I would encounter lots of challenges. I just mean that I had a sense of confirmation that this experience was FOR me.That whatever would come as a result of this decision good or bad was FOR ME, that it was ordained, that it would grow me in all the right places I specifically needed. I took off all my other choices. and for the remainder of my junior year and all of senior year of high school. I set out to prepare myself as best as I could for my dream school. I couldn’t wait!
and 3 years later this school still never ceases to amaze me. Last year we were ranked 3rd in the country for fashion merchandising and 4th for fashion design and while I’ve learned that numbers are a limited definition. It’s a very simplistic reminder that I attend a school that is constantly innovating, growing and striving to provide not only the best opportunities in the country but the world. Kent State’s fashion school’s success and story resonates with me because it reminds me a lot of myself. The school is a reminder to me that spectacular things can definitely come from underrepresented, unexpected, slept on places. That you can make the absolute most of what you have, despite the odds and still be competitive. That you should never allow factors that you can’t control to define you. That you can shape your own narrative and accomplish whatever you will. I’ll always remember this decision. I wanted to go somewhere that had an environment where the subject of my passion was center stage, somewhere that would challenge me tremendously and bring together the type of talented students I felt were like myself. With no portfolio, no middle/high school prep, access to programming for my major, and no outlandish money to be in New York…the dream of attending a fashion school like I had in mind, began to seem far off until I met Kent State…. and the rest is history!
Thank you for tuning in and if you’re interested in watching the visuals that correlate with this piece click the link below!