Upward Bound Students Fashioning a Fierce Future

After last month’s “Fashioning a Future” fashion show, students from Upward Bound and Liberty Partnerships showed that they are cut from a different cloth—one of resourcefulness, creativity, determination and community.

On April 25, students in the Upward Bound (UB) and Liberty Partnership Programs (LPP) helped put on an amazing fashion show fundraiser for an audience of approximately 120 people. The impetus for the show came from a Pace University Upward Bound alumna, a Public Relations and Marketing major at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, who needed to host or organize a major event for her senior project for graduation. The event became a fundraiser for Upward Bound at Pace, an academic program for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, designed to generate and enhance the skills and motivation necessary for success in high and higher education.

The Upward Bound student council got involved and took on a lot of responsibility for working out the logistics of the show, says Upward Bound Program Director Jennifer Efferen. Students planned many of the details of the event.  UB alumni overwhelmingly supported the event, making donations, buying tickets for current students and their guests-- UB alumnus DeVon Paul volunteered his DJ services for the fashion show.

Fierce Fashion, Confident Students

Each of the 16 students in the Fashioning a Future show modeled three different runway looks: one professional, one urban chic, and one “model’s choice.” The fashions of the event were supposed to come from a local designer, but when that fell through, the students’ creativity took over. Models were given $30 to shop at a Goodwill thrift store for both the professional and urban chic looks. The “model’s choice” ensembles could come from the students’ own wardrobes. Jewelry and accessories were either donated or loaned to Upward Bound for the fashion show; students wore their own shoes.

The idea was, says Ms. Efferen, “to show the students that no matter how broke you are, especially when you are in college, you can get professional attire for very little money at the Goodwill.”

Students were deeply invested in the success of the event and took preparations seriously. Young women in impossibly high heels practicing their runway strut in the SOE conference room were a familiar sight in the New York City offices in the weeks before the fashion show.

Community Support

The Upward Bound Student Council reached out to local merchants in Lower Manhattan to solicit local neighborhood support for the event. One dry cleaner offered students the opportunity to “shop” through unclaimed clothes from several years past.

When soliciting donations from Antonella’s Barbershop & Salon on Bleeker Street, students met Carlos Otero, who manages his own venture organizing fashion shows, “Latino Make-Up and Beauty Shows.” Mr. Otero became very involved in helping orchestrate the professional hair styling and make-up artistry for the event. Antonella’s also gave away $300 in makeover services as a raffle prize.

It All Comes Together

The night of the fashion show was an uproarious success. Students put together fashionable, yet practical professional outfits that would look at home in any office, as well as fashion-forward, fun urban chic ensembles. For the model’s choice, students sported a variety of looks to express their individuality—from traditional, ethic attire to eclectic dressy looks to punk-rock comfort. Singers and step dancers performed in between each runway show.

“It was a really successful event,” said Ms. Efferen. “The students had so much fun. The confidence that came out of these kids was amazing.”

And the Mount Saint Mary UB alumna? She got an A.