Jefferson Students Win Record Number of YMA Fashion Scholarships

Emily DeBernardo earned a $5,000 scholarship from YMA. She's one of 11 students to be honored.

Emily DeBernardo earned a $5,000 scholarship from YMA. She’s one of 11 students to be honored.

From a highly competitive national pool, 11 fashion and industrial design students will receive scholarships from the 2018 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund—the most Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) students to be ever recognized in the prestigious competition during a single year.

Fashion design students Deanna Wedge and Tommy Heidebrecht will earn $10,000 and $7,500, respectively, and the following students will receive $5,000 each: fashion design students Emily DeBernardo, Yee Ho, Abagale Petty, Colton Snavely and Damon Spivey; fashion merchandising and management students Chace Burke, Ashley DiBona and Emily Ward; and industrial design student John Cecil.

All the students will be honored at a Jan. 9 awards ceremony at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The YMA association, made up of fashion industry leaders, promotes education of the fashion arts and business through internships, mentorships and career programs to talented students.

Out of the 540 submissions from 60 participating schools, Jefferson had the second most winning scholars, outperforming Parsons, Fashion Institute of Technology, Cornell, Wharton and Harvard.

Fashion design student Deanna Wedge won a $10,000 YMA scholarship.

Fashion design student Deanna Wedge won a $10,000 YMA scholarship.

“This is an exceptional year for Jefferson,” said Sheila Connelly, director of the fashion design program. “I couldn’t be more proud of our students on this accomplishment. At the same time, I also want to give a shout out to the faculty team who mentored them every step of the way.”

In addition to having a GPA of 3.0 or above, applicants had to submit a detailed case study exploring how the weaving together of digital technology with offline shopping can improve the performance of a fashion retailer.

For example, Wedge created a revolving collection where a portion of the proceeds would be donated to local youth LGBTQ organizations. Stores would be able to track sales and donations through an app, she explained.

“It feels really amazing and gratifying to win,” said Heidebrecht, who thanked his advisor and fashion design instructor Carly Kusy, Connelly and the rest of the Jefferson faculty who helped him. Heidebrecht also recently won a national challenge on “Good Morning America” to redesign a wedding gown into a totally new fashion-forward look.

“This is yet another record-breaking accomplishment for our fashion programs,” said Nioka Wyatt, director of the fashion merchandising and management program. “We worked with our students over the summer to complete a challenging case competition that exemplifies our Nexus Learning approach to teaching that prepares them for a constantly evolving industry. The perseverance and passion of our students and faculty allowed us to surpass many other universities, and we’re extremely proud.”

Jefferson has historically done well in the YMA competition, with 31 winners over the last four years. In fact, fashion design alumna Vivian Cooper ’17 was awarded the first-ever top award of $35,000 in January 2017.

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