Wen (Jenny) Zhao, an eighth semester Textile Development and Marketing major from Sydney, Australia, has been awarded a $30,000 Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF). Four scholarships of $30,000 each are given annually from the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, which has contributed more than $4.5 million since its inception to underwrite the Geoffrey Beene Scholarship.
Five other FIT students―Zhaojie (Chelsea) Chen, Kurtis Fox, Jody Lee, and Andrea Spiridonakos, each of whom is pursuing a BFA in Fashion Design, and Victoria Kulesza, who is pursuing a degree in Fashion Merchandising Management―were among the approximately 100 recipients of $5,000 YMA FSF scholarships.
“Growing up, I was surrounded by the women in my family who would spend every hour of their spare time sewing, knitting, and crocheting,” Zhao said. “I think it all started then, when I was 6 and would get excited about their new designs and help with the color decisions. I would have a great day at school if I dressed in bright big prints, and I was always drawn to interesting textiles and patterns when Mom took me fabric shopping. To this day, I am still passionate about and fascinated by fashion for its ability to transcend boundaries and push the limits of our imagination.”
In addition to receiving these scholarships, several of the students have excelled in other areas. Zhao was a member of the four-person FIT team that took first place in the World Retail Congress’s Retail Futures Challenge in 2013. Kulesza was a member of this year’s team, which took first place for the second consecutive year. Chen was the finalist in a competition the White House held with FIT to design a dress for First Lady Michelle Obama to wear during the Fashion Education Workshop she hosted at the White House on October 8. Chen attended the event, and her design was displayed on stage.
YMA is an international nonprofit organization composed of influential members of the fashion industry. Founded in 1937, the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund’s goal is to advance the fashion industry by encouraging gifted and enterprising young people to pursue careers in design, merchandising, retailing, and business, so that the industry will continue to attract dedicated, capable, and creative individuals. YMA has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships to thousands of students worldwide. In addition to providing scholarships, YMA offers internships and mentoring to scholarship winners.