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Ohio State academic year culminates with student fashion show

May 6-10 is In-Demand Jobs Week, an annual statewide celebration of the jobs, industries and skills that are in demand in Ohio. Ohio State News highlights students as they transition from graduation into the workforce.

Students at The Ohio State University who are preparing to enter a variety of career fields showcased their creativity with a fashion show on April 20 at the Ohio Union. As the 2023-24 academic year drew to a close, the students celebrated their accomplishments with faculty, classmates, family and friends.

The annual fashion show enables students to display their abilities in garment design and construction, said Shreya Mishra, who graduated on May 5 and served as president of the Fashion Production Association (FPA) over the past year. She served as FPA co-president in the prior academic year.

The FPA, which organizes the fashion show, is a student organization that is open to all majors and is especially geared toward students in the College of Education and Human Ecology’s Fashion and Retail Studies program.

Planning the fashion show is a collaborative effort between the FPA executive team, committee chairs and faculty advisers. The large undertaking enables students to hone their organizational, communication and leadership skills, Mishra said.

“We start planning a year out,” she said. “I think it shows how happy everyone is to get started on the new show.”

The fashion show encompasses a range of competencies, including fundraising, marketing and special event production. Mishra said working with her fellow FPA members to plan the show helped her learn how to best communicate her ideas to those who will execute them.

“I have to make sure I can outline well and I can follow up with the people who are in charge,” she said. “I feel like that’s a skill that I’ve learned a lot in the past two years: to just take a step back and calm down, and it’s OK if it’s not done my way. As long as it’s done to the best of someone’s abilities, then I should be happy and proud.”

Students who presented their designs in the fashion show incorporated themes from their majors. Caitlyn Walker, a social work major, wove objects into her designs that illustrate challenges faced by people who live in disadvantaged communities. The theme of her presentation was “Nostalgia: From the Trailer Park.”

One of Walker’s designs featured a model carrying a purse crafted from a cigarette carton – bringing attention to the ill effects of nicotine on health. Participating in the fashion show helped her bring awareness to social inequities that she experienced growing up and that she plans to address in her career as a social worker, Walker said.

“I wanted to do this collection because it … I thought it could embody what a childhood looked like in a low-income area,” she said. “I did a lot of playing with things in the house and the trailer, and also little pieces of things I remember seeing as a kid.”  

Acacia Rhodes, who is majoring in forestry fisheries and wildlife, said she designed her fashions to be environmentally friendly.

“All my materials are secondhand or reused,” she said.

Mishra also merged her interests by majoring in environment, economy, development and sustainability, with a minor in fashion and retail studies.

Over the summer, she will participate in Ohio State’s EmPOWERment Research in Sustainable Energy (RISE) program. During the 10-week intensive experience, students conduct research in the lab of an Ohio State faculty member with the support of an academic mentor and a peer mentor.

After completing RISE, Mishra said she plans to travel through the end of the year and then apply to graduate school. She said the skills she acquired as FPA president and working with her peers to plan the fashion show will benefit her in her future endeavors.

“It’s my first year and last year being the sole [FPA] president,” she said. “I was kind of anxious at the start, being alone here. But I quickly came to learn that I’m not really alone. … That’s something that I’m really happy about, that I have a team that actually wants to help, and that will help if I ask for it.”