PhilaU’s fashion program features student accolades, immersion in New York fashion industry

Philadelphia University now proudly boasts 9 nationally and internationally ranked programs.  Our students’ and faculty’s commitment to innovation have increased the visibility and prestige of these programs and helped make PhilaU a competitor among elite schools.  The programs are: fashion design, fashion merchandising and management, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, physician assistant studies, midwifery, communications online, and business online.

Our fashion program, ranked as one of the top 50 fashion schools in the world by Fashionista magazine, is a wonderful example of how PhilaU’s Nexus Learning signature educational philosophy gives our students a dramatic competitive advantage.  We embed opportunities to work in collaborative teams and professionally engage with companies and organizations as a part of our internships and coursework.  Our students flourish when facing the diverse challenges that the fashion program’s industry and organization collaborations provide.  Fashion students have collaborated with Target; Laura Geller cosmetics; Johnson & Johnson; Nicole Miller; and the Philadelphia Art Museum, and many, many others.

Our fashion students’ professional excellence in external competitions against fashion students from all over the country underscores the value of a Philadelphia University education.  This year, six Philadelphia University fashion students won prestigious YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund scholarships.  Our remarkable fashion program is a wonderful testament to our school’s textile history. Philadelphia University has a long history of understanding fashion and the business of fashion.

Five of our YMA scholarship winners won $5,000 scholarships.  They are:

  • Madeline Bill ’17, fashion merchandising and management
  • Maria D’Agostino ’16, fashion design
  • May He ’15, fashion design
  • Kristen Heun ’15, fashion design
  • Courtney Hunter ’16, fashion merchandising and management

Our sixth winner, Tia Pion, won a $10,000 scholarship as one of eight national finalists in the Geoffrey Beene scholarship competition.  She also won a $5,000 scholarship in 2013.

Courtney Hunter also recently won a $10,000 National Retail Foundation scholarship as one of five finalists in the Next Generation scholarship competition.

Accolades such as these are indicators of our students’ professional commitment to their disciplines and their desire to become leaders in their industries.  Past YMA scholarship winners have been very successful in their careers.  Casey Saccomanno ’08 is a designer for wovens and knits at SoulStar Creations LLC; Anfisa Sokolova ’11 is a color design assistant at Eileen Fisher and a YMA Scholar and Mentor; Terniqua Osborne ’11 worked for PVH and is now a production coordinator at LF USA.


But we will not rest on our laurels. PhilaU’s fashion program has also launched the New York Immersion Program.  The program is coordinated by Sheila Connelly, director of the fashion design program; Beth Mariotz, director of the fashion merchandising and management program; and Nioka Wyatt, assistant professor of fashion merchandising and management.  Once a week, sophomore fashion design and fashion merchandising and management students travel to New York to study the work of design studios, manufacturers, and retailers.  They will also meet with PhilaU fashion alumni.  This program exemplifies Nexus Learning: it gives students real-world experience in the spaces where fashion professionals do their work every day.

20150123_140351(photos courtesy of Vivian Cooper ’17, Fashion Design)

Later in the semester, the students will attend New York Fashion Week.  Fashion design students Tia Pion and Dana Jackson ‘14 have been chosen to show their collection in the New York Fashion Week Emerging Designers Collective.  They were chosen from an international pool of talented young design students. New York Immersion students will work behind the scenes at the show to give them vital experience in America’s largest fashion show.

Last Friday, the students went to Xcel Brands, the parent company of Isaac Mizrahi, Liz Claiborne New York, and Judith Ripka; Mood, the fabric store made famous by Project Runway (which PhilaU alum Jay McCarroll won in its first season); and Tiger J, a clothing manufacturer that licenses for many celebrities and designers.  Tiger J has developed brands for Carson Kressley H’13, PhilaU trustee; Rachel Zoe; Serena Williams; Liz Lange; Giuliana Rancic; and Queen Latifah.


For Isaac Mizrahi, students will tackle a semester-long group project: they will design, merchandise, and market a home improvement business that is targeted toward women in a Home Depot and/or Lowes, establishing Isaac Mizrahi as a brand that allows women to live with style.

At Tiger J, students took a look at some of the fabric designs that the brand uses in their clothing; Tiger J is the force behind the proliferation of faux fur.


PhilaU students are effusive with their praise of the program and the opportunities it will provide.  Fashion merchandising and management major Alyssa Tomaseck said, “All the excitement built up for this course was definitely worth the wait because this is an experience of a lifetime… not many students will be able to say they had this kind of amazing opportunity.”  Kimberly Hill, a fashion merchandising and management major, said, “I learned a great amount from our visit to Tiger J… I got to see the designers, graphic designers, sewers, and the head of the department that would work with the fashion labels. This helped me to understand the various aspects of the value chain that makes up a company… This visit to Tiger J got me extremely excited for this industry.”

We treat our students as professionals from the very beginning, so even as sophomores, they possess the maturity and industry knowledge that lets them fully appreciate the significance of the New York Immersion experience.  The hands-on aspects of this program, plus the visit to New York Fashion Week, will give our students an edge over their peers in the industry.

You can follow the PhilaU fashion design program on social media:

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Philadelphia University’s “Nexus Learning” Continues to Advance Professional Education

The rapid progression of Philadelphia University’s pioneering of transdisciplinary education – we call it Nexus Learning – has outpaced even our aggressive projections. From the Core 77 award in 2012 to the StateScoop 50 State Innovation of the Year Award in 2014, we have received national attention for our approach to higher education.

But we are never satisfied. Now, Philadelphia University is collaborating with Aalto University of Finland ( to intensively explore the richness of an education that imbues a broad understanding of value creation. Nexus Learning is a global phenomenon.

This weekend, Aalto University and PhilaU launched the first “Nexus Maximus” Sprint Project. Sponsored by Johnson and Johnson, 150 students from Finland and PhilaU, representing nine academic disciplines, formed three “legions” with four teams per legion. Twenty-two faculty members act as “Centurions” to guide the teams. The brief is to address a problem within the “Aging in Place” phenomenon and provide a solution. PhilaU occupational therapy students are advisors to the teams. Twenty workshops, presented by Aalto and PhilaU faculty, underpinned the intense learning and doing environment. Friday to Monday…problem-research-prototypes-solution-presentation…value creation.

Today, September 8, 2014, the teams present their solutions. The results can be reviewed at But the more important results will emerge over the next generation as the students take this experience into their careers and lead a global economy.

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PhilaU by the numbers

3, 8, 50, 94, 100.

As students, faculty, staff, and the whole PhilaU community prepare for the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester, I repeat these numbers to myself . They are the numbers that define how we at Philadelphia University fulfill our mission as a 21st-century institution that provides students with real-world experience and prepares them to be leaders in their evolving industries.

3 PhilaU students in the past five years have won the prestigious and coveted Fulbright Research Fellowships. For a relatively small school, this is a remarkable achievement. Our recipient from this past year is alumna Libby Nichols ‘14, a star lacrosse player who is traveling to Munich in September to study the cognitive effects that “heading” soccer balls has on youth soccer players.

8 of PhilaU’s programs have been nationally and internationally recognized: fashion design, physician assistant studies, midwifery, interior design, the online B.S. in professional communications, graphic design, occupational therapy, and the online B.S. in business management. This number is ever-increasing as PhilaU’s reputation grows.

50 years had passed since President John F. Kennedy’s assassination when PhilaU’s Single Bullet exhibition opened in October 2013. The first major project of the Arlen Specter Center for Public Service, the exhibition was the result of the collaborative work of architecture, graphic design, and law and society students and professors. Using documents donated by the late Senator Arlen Specter, this team constructed an interactive exhibit studying the various theories surrounding JFK’s assassination. The incredible public success of the very first project completed through the Specter Center has made the PhilaU community eager to see what the next project will be.

94% of the PhilaU Class of 2013 reported that within a year of graduation, they had jobs in their industries or had been accepted to graduate school. This percentage says it all: the PhilaU educational model is working. We treat students as creative and critical doers and professionals beginning with their very first day of college. Our students are provided every opportunity to nourish their innovative impulses by working with transdisciplinary teams and engaging in fast-paced industry projects that mimic the professional world. They become juggernauts in their industries.

100 individuals and teams have visited PhilaU’s Blackstone LaunchPad, part of our Entrepreneurship Center, since its opening earlier this year. The LaunchPad provides expertise and resources for student businesses to transform ideas into successful ventures. A number of the visitors have already launched businesses since visiting the LaunchPad. PhilaU does not just give students the tools to succeed – we show them how to use those tools.

PhilaU’s accolades never stop rolling in. I am overjoyed nearly every morning when I wake up, check my email, and see that yet another wonderful thing has happened in the PhilaU community. Students win prestigious competitions; professors are awarded fellowships to pursue research that benefits their industries as well as PhilaU; alumni earn leadership positions in influential companies. As our community grows, so does our reputation. By the numbers, and by all other methods of measurement, PhilaU is fulfilling its mission.