Six Fashion Students Win Prestigious YMA National Scholarships

YMA scholarship winners includes (from left to right) Courtney Hunter, Tia Pion, May He, Kristen Heun, Madeline Bill and Maria D’Agostino (not pictured).

YMA scholarship winners include (from left to right) Courtney Hunter, Tia Pion, May He, Kristen Heun, Madeline Bill and Maria D’Agostino (not pictured).

Fashion design senior Victoria Pion has won a $10,000 national scholarship as one of eight finalists in the prestigious YMA FSF Geoffrey Beene scholarship competition, while five other PhilaU fashion students took home $5,000 scholarships.

The winners were celebrated at an awards dinner in New York on Jan. 7.

“I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to go through this process,” said Pion, who goes by Tia. “I connected with a lot of amazing people and had a blast with the other scholars.”

“Tia did an incredible job,” said Sheila Connelly, PhilaU fashion design program director. “She is a talented, focused, lovely person, and she is going to do very well in her career.”

The winners of the $5,000 YMA scholarships this year are:

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

Tia Pion accepts her award from former Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera.

Tia Pion accepts her award from former Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera.

After being one of three PhilaU fashion students to win a $5,000 scholarship from the organization last year, Pion was selected to compete for a larger prize. Earlier this month, she presented a case study on wearable technology to top executives of major fashion companies at the Global Brands Group’s New York office.

“It’s amazing that we had six scholarship winners this year,” Connelly said, noting that PhilaU students were well represented in numbers compared with some much larger schools. “Our students have really stepped up, and I am so proud of them.”

At the awards dinner, students networked with designers, members of the fashion press and industry leaders such as David Sirkin ’94, a PhilaU alumnus and president of The Neckwear Group at PVH Corp. Sirkin served as an industry mentor to two of this year’s PhilaU winners, Courtney Hunter and Madeline Bill.

While in New York, the students attended a career fair and connected with representatives from such well-known companies as Ralph Lauren, Under Armour and Macy’s.

As part of the YMA scholarship program, Pion participated in a 2014 summer internship at the Columbus, Ohio, headquarters of global clothing company Abercrombie and Fitch. “I designed and sketched garments that will be in stores soon,” Pion said. “I got to pick prints for garments and do trend research in New York City.”

Pion said she would like to work at a large fashion company, such as J.Crew, after she graduates. “As of right now, I’m building my portfolio,” she said.

The YMA association, made up of fashion industry leaders, promotes education of the fashion arts and business through scholarships, internships, mentorships and career programs to talented students.

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