Maria Tappin Date, Jewelry Design ’91

I was a foreign student from Trinidad, who had only vacationed in the U.S. prior to attending FIT. Travelling to school by train from Queens was new and exciting but, I got lost upon exiting the station every day of my first week. I decided to apply for dorm accommodation and was lucky to be handed keys to a quad apartment one week later.

My roomates made me feel right at home. During my first semester, Denise Protomastro, a fashion design major, took me under her wing and ensured that I accompanied her to her family home in Connecticut as often as possible so I wouldn’t feel lost in the city.

It was complete culture shock to see students wearing 4- and 6-inch platform trainers, outlandish hairstyles in assorted colors, and outfits reminiscent of Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan.

One guy stood out in my mind; he wore hi top Dr. Martin boots, too short long trousers, with suspenders over his shirt adorned with a neat bow tie. He had an odd, deliberate stride and reminded me of Pee Wee Herman. We never made eye contact but I was curious about him.

Pagers were a thing, hall phones were used to communicate with the outside world and just a handful of students had mobile phones and desktop computers in their dorm rooms.

I became an active member of the jewelry club and helped run table sales at the regularly held student market. We sold pieces made by students to raise funds for the club. The funds helped offset costs for two educational/recreational cross country trips which were scheduled during my time at FIT. I visited Rhode Island and Illinois with classmates, second year students and lecturers. These trips helped foster friendships with people we were otherwise unlikely to meet.

One memorable event on campus was the 1990 Spring Fest. It was akin to a street fair/party open to the public. The student band performed and there was even limbo dancing on 27th street.

By the time I entered the working world as a production assistant at M&J Savitt, I felt like a New Yorker. FIT was more than a university; to me it was a second family supporting me on my journey to adulthood.

Photos (clockwise from left): Jewelry Design Students pose with projects, Springfest 1990, Roommates Maria Tappin Date and Carole Durante Gilfedder. 

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