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Academy Sophomores Win at the 2020 Fashion Scholarship Fund

The Iovine and Young Academy may not be a fashion school, but it’s definitely making a statement. For the third year in a row, Academy students have won at the prestigious 2020 Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) Competition, a merit-based scholarship that looks for gifted and enterprising young people to advance in the fashion industry.

Academy sophomores Mark Veksler, Irene Chen, Sydney Loew, Ivy Tsang, and Ashara Wilson were among 15 Trojans and over 700 students from across the country competing in FSF. Chen, Veksler, and Loew each won $5,000 in the Design and Product Development category. The Academy trio attended the awards gala in New York City and will be granted valuable industry mentoring and recruitment opportunities for fashion and retail brands.

Every year, FSF offers students with a passion for fashion a chance to compete for awards up to $35,000 in scholarships, industry placement assistance, internships, and more. This year’s theme, Fashion Collaborations, challenged students to imagine themselves as a chief operating officer (COO) of a fashion brand or retailer. The objective? Design apparel that represents the brand well and present it to the CEO.

Irene Chen (right) chose to form a collaboration between Louis Vuitton and the Smithsonian Institution.

"I grew up around Washington D.C. exploring the Smithsonian museums. I felt that their emphasis on art, history, education, and conservation meshed perfectly with Louis Vuitton's values," said Chen.

Steve Barth, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Academy and Dennis Schorr, Professor of Clinical Marketing at Marshall guided Academy students through the process- giving insight into what to expect and honing in on strategies that might give a competitive edge over other universities, especially niche fashion schools.

"We stepped up our coaching to better compete," said Professor Barth. "We held more info sessions, addressed industry issues not covered on campus, and collaborated with Jinah Oh, Director of Fashion Merchandising at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, for a special online tutorial."

Irene Chen, who felt like she was in an entirely new world when it came to the fashion industry, credits her professors for encouraging her to apply and guiding her through the competition.

"It was thanks to our Professor Steve Barth that I knew about FSF in the first place. He was really enthusiastic about us applying and knew how valuable the experience would be. I had no knowledge about the fashion or retail industries before diving into this, so it was interesting to learn about it," said Chen.

Previously, Academy students won the FSF competition in 2018 and 2019. Alumna Monique Manaloto won back to back prizes both years, along with now-senior Mackenzie Baker winning in 2018. Congratulations to this year's winners!