Sharing Tangible Success:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jarvis and RobertTuition, books, food, parking decals and membership dues are just a few of the items college students are responsible for during their higher educational experience. Upon absorbing these costs, students often have little to no financial resources for clothing necessities. Seeing this reality and wanting to make a change is how SC State University’s belts, ties and pearls initiative was adopted.

In December 2009, then Student Government Association (SGA) president Zachary Middleton presented the idea to Dr. Ann Winstead, Executive Speaker Series (ESS) program director. Middleton sought to provide an avenue for his peers to acquire business attire and accessories at no cost to them. Shortly after, the business program opened Wardrobe 101, a student operated store where business majors can browse items to include belts, ties, pearls and other business accessories.

“Wardrobe 101 is just another opportunity to show students that we care about their professional image, and even if they don’t visit the store, they know that this is something that we value,” says Winstead. “It reinforces some of the other ways that we try to get this message out. It demonstrates that your professional image is important.”

Located in Belcher Hall and stocked with contributions, Wardrobe 101’s donations have been received from faculty, staff and alumni; however, the program’s largest sponsor is SC State’s Board of Visitors, donating more than 75 percent of the store’s items. Chairman Jackie Steele says the Board of Visitors wants to leverage the opportunity to continue the future growth and development of SC State students. “This is a very positive initiative for us to support at the University. We feel that even though we are an advisory board, we can continue to add value to the student population through this initiative as well as others,” shares Steele. “We are truly blessed to have two outstanding members, Dr. Benetta Bell and Ms. Mahalia Levine-Sinclair, lead this initiative for the Board of Visitors. They are the power source behind this locomotive,” he says.

Serving as keynote speaker during one of SC State’s spring 2010 Executive Speaker Series, Steele says he understands the importance of giving back to students and helping them dress for success. “Most of the members of the Board of Visitors are graduates of the University. I think all of us can relate to the economic background of many of our students; therefore, it was a no-brainer for us to support this initiative,” says Steele. “In today's business world, first impressions are critical; they can't be remade. When meeting with a potential employer, it is important to exhibit professionalism, not only with a sound knowledge base, but also with that initial appearance. This program will help our students present a polished image and jumpstart them in the right direction for ongoing success."

Senior business management major and regular ESS attendee, Jarvis Nelson is all too familiar with the importance of upholding his professional image. Having attended several University job fairs, interviews and church events, Nelson is a regular visitor of Wardrobe 101. “I personally think the belts, ties and pearls initiative is a great success. It encourages students to dress more professionally, showing them how to convey a more business savvy appearance as they develop other skills while in college.”

Nelson also notes how the initiative has impacted him, describing it as a blessing, and shares his gratitude to the Boards of Visitors and others who have generously donated to this fervent cause.

“Prior to the start of this program, I had one belt and one tie. I was so tired of wearing the same black tie,” laughed Nelson. “I kept saying I wished the University had something in place to offer something different. Then, this program came along. It has impacted me because I would have otherwise struggled through college, trying to obtain those items,” he expressed. “I’m grateful to those who have provided contributions. Many of them have already been where we are now and understand how difficult it can be to dress professionally without the necessary resources.”

Upon receipt of the items, Nelson and other business students are indefinite owners, being allowed to keep the items even upon graduating from the University. “Being a recipient of this cause motivates me to follow in the footsteps of others and give back to students at my Alma Mater once I enter into the business world,” said Nelson.

During their next meeting on October 22, 2010, the Board of Visitors will make their second donation to Wardrobe 101, this time supplying gently used business attire such as dress shirts and blouses in addition to belts, ties and pearls, among other jewelry.

Wardrobe 101 is open every Wednesday and Friday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Donations of new or gently used business attire to include belts, ties and pearls are currently being accepted. For more information, contact Dr. Ann Winstead at (803) 516-4864.