Electronics Prototyping Kit Wins Top Ram Business Pitch Competition

Industrial design student Delara Kiani pitches the winning electronics prototyping kit.

M.S. in industrial design student Delara Kiani pitches the winning electronics prototyping kit.

A kit for electronics prototyping and programming earned first place in the University’s annual Top Ram Idea and Business Model Competition presented by Blackstone LaunchPad.

D&D Smart Kit, pitched by M.S. in user experience and interaction design student John Rodrigues and M.S. in industrial design student Delara Kiani, is an affordable kit and course that helps designers develop their prototype without having to learn to code. Developed over the past year, their solution saves time and money, as well as allows people to get more creative and see their inventions come to life faster, they explained.

Along with the $1,200 Matt Glass Award for Entrepreneurship—established by Steven Glass, MD, in honor of his late son Matt Glass ’15—and coaching from Blackstone LaunchPad, the pair said they gained confidence, valuable feedback on their concept and a better appreciation of the pitching process.

Judges scored on product/service innovation, research, potential impact, concept viability, business model innovation and storytelling.

Judges scored the concepts on product/service innovation, research, potential impact, viability, business model innovation and storytelling.

“It’s so important to simplify the technical terms, so everybody can understand and connect with the idea,” Rodrigues said.

In Top Ram, 10 teams of students from Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) pitched their ideas in the Lawrence N. Field DEC Center Forum on Dec. 6 to a panel of judges. A brief Q&A followed each seven-minute presentation. Judging criteria included product/service innovation, research, potential impact, concept viability, business model innovation and storytelling.

Runner-up went to Revive, a sustainable clothing company that allows consumers to repurpose their out-of-style denim by reviving them into fashion-forward pieces. With the concept, they would embellish gently worn and used denim, giving items a fresh, new look.

The team of fashion design senior Ally Laskowski, fashion merchandising and management junior Brianna Giarraputo and finance freshman C.J. Goodz won $500, as well as coaching from Blackstone LaunchPad. They also earned the $100 award for business model innovation.

“It’s always great to talk to industry professionals and get their opinion on your presentations,” Laskowski said. “It’s another thing we can add to our professional careers.”

Top Ram judges included Heather Rose, PhD, JD, director of technology licensing at Jefferson’s Innovation Pillar; Irving Gerber ’69, university alumnus and former equal employment opportunity manager with the United Parcel Service; Shubha Bennur, PhD, director of Jefferson’s M.S. in global fashion enterprise program; Jason Crook, MBA, assistant professor of marketing at Jefferson; Ben Barnett, CEO of Media Bureau; and entrepreneur and investor Harvey Hoffman.

In Top Ram, 10 teams of Jefferson students pitched their ideas.

In Top Ram, 10 teams of Jefferson students pitched their ideas to a panel of expert judges.

Judging Top Ram for the third year, Hoffman was impressed with the innovation and passion he saw by the students, noting he thought several concepts could be commercialized. “I love the opportunity to see early-stage ideas and ventures,” Hoffman said.

Other pitches ranged from an electric skateboard, to a care package subscription plan, to a convertible whiteboard table/presentation board, to a scalp applicator and occlusion headcap for people with skin conditions, which won the product innovation prize.

“Top Ram allows the entrepreneurship center to stir up ideas on campus and get students to think twice about opportunities that have the potential to be a real business if you put in the effort,” said Abena Nyarko, program manager of Blackstone LaunchPad at Jefferson.

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Graphic Design Projects Explore Diabetes Prevention and Management

Graphic design communication students Patrice Sakalosky and Abbey Pitzer discuss their “Farm to Fridge” brand system.

Graphic design communication students Patrice Sakalosky and Abbey Pitzer discuss their “Farm to Fridge” brand system.

Pennsylvania’s Cambria and Somerset counties currently face a diabetes epidemic. Approximately 13 percent of adults in this area have type 2 diabetes, with 30 to 40 percent of adults classified as obese.

To explore opportunities for intervention, graphic design communication seniors developed a design system that provides information, tools and resources to this rural community about type 2 diabetes prevention and disease management.

The students enrolled in the systems design integration course worked with the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health, whose mission is to improve the health and wellness of people in Cambria and Somerset counties through collaboration, research and education.

In addition, the graphic design students partnered with third-year pharmacy students in the diabetes immersion class taught by Amy Egras, PharmD, BCPS, associate professor of pharmacy practice at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University). Dr. Egras loved the innovation she saw in the final presentations and said both the pharmacy and graphic design students benefited from the design-thinking activity.

“The student pharmacists had the opportunity to teach graphic design students about diabetes, and they got to see healthcare presented in a different way that was creative and fun for people with diabetes,” Dr. Egras said.

Elizabeth Shirrell, MFA, assistant professor of graphic design communication, said the collaborative workshop with the pharmacy students proved invaluable to the project’s success.

“The client’s challenge required our students to analyze the people of Cambria and Somerset county’s needs, wants, values and patterns of behavior, using a variety of human-centered research methods in order to identify opportunities for design interventions,” said Shirrell, who taught the course with graphic design faculty members Frank Baseman and Renee Walker. “This design-thinking workshop focused on building patient empathy and understanding by allowing the two groups to download and share their knowledge with one another, identify themes and insights, and ultimately, hone in on a design opportunity. This was a great experience of interprofessional interaction and active learning possible at Jefferson.”

One team developed a healthy snack concept to help teach good food behavior at a young age.

One team developed a healthy snack concept to help teach good food behavior at a young age.

The nine teams of graphic design students presented their final projects in the Kanbar Performance Space on Dec. 5. Senior Eryn Griffin and her team addressed the issue of food deserts in the region and designed “Farm to Fridge,” a brand system that partners with farmers to bring local, fresh produce to the residents of Cambria and Somerset counties through a mobile market produce truck. She said the project taught her about working collaboratively, as well as with a client and other professionals outside of design.

“We learned more about the disease and the empathy needed when working with a patient,” Griffin said. “We understood what the people of Somerset and Cambria counties were going through and used that empathy to make our project even stronger.”

Senior Kori Hirsch team’s focused on the working-class residents in Johnstown, Pa., who often lack time to go to the grocery store for fresh food, to cook meals and to exercise, their research showed. They designed “On-Site,” an initiative that works with employers to deliver healthy, delicious and affordable meals to their employers through food trucks.

“I love human-centered design because I have the opportunity to step into the shoes of someone else and find out what they really need,” she said. “It’s also extremely rewarding to connect all the steps of the design process—research, ideation, design—and create something that really solves a problem that nothing else currently solves. Lastly, getting to work with a real client and having the chance to absorb new knowledge is something we need as designers to expand our talents and really grow within real-world solutions.”

Other projects presented included healthy snacks geared for kids, an awareness campaign to encourage family bonding and getting people physically active, and a “welcome box” given to patients when diagnosed with diabetes.

“Addressing diabetes prevention and control in a rural population within a graphic design course provides many opportunities to advance our students’ perspective on future design careers, as well as an opportunity to demonstrate the significant role design can play in mitigating a national health epidemic,” said Neil Harner, director of the digital and graphic design communication programs at Jefferson.

Both the pharmacy and graphic design students benefited from the design-thinking activity.

Both the pharmacy and graphic design students benefited from the design-thinking workshop.

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New Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach One Of Few Women In The Job: Philadelphia Inquirer

New men’s assistant basketball coach Steph Carideo is one of very few women coaching men’s NCAA and NBA teams, and may be the only one in DII, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Dec. 5.

For Carideo, the chance to coach alongside Hall-of-Famer Herb Magee was a big draw, but also a homecoming of sorts, as she racked up more than 1,000 points as a Ram playing for women’s head coach Tom Shirley.

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Jefferson Receives Department of Labor Grant to Fight Opioid Crisis

Under the leadership of Priya Mammen, MD, MPH, Jefferson’s Upskill-ED project will support emergency department providers.

Under the leadership of Priya Mammen, MD, MPH, Jefferson’s Upskill-ED project will support emergency department providers.

Jefferson has received $586,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor to support a workforce strategy to reduce opioid usage in Philadelphia. Through the National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant, Jefferson will develop and conduct training for clinicians working on the front lines in the emergency department (ED).

Leading the unique project, Upskill-ED, is Priya Mammen, MD, MPH, director of public health programs and clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at Jefferson.

“The contribution of the interprofessional team that staffs the ED is essential in providing a safety net and universal access to care for vulnerable populations,” Dr. Mammen explained. “To optimize the delivery of care, healthcare organizations must ensure their staffs are equipped with the knowledge and skills to care for these patients, as well as optimize their employees’ own well-being.”

A trauma-informed department and organization trains providers in clinical skills, supports a culture of health among their staff, and accounts for the inherently complex nature of the vulnerable populations they serve, including being sensitive and responsive to cultural and historical issues (i.e., social determinants of health), she said.

Upskill-ED will operate out of Jefferson’s Institute of Emerging Health Professions, an educational think-tank and incubator. Jefferson colleagues working with Dr. Mammen on the project include Stephen DiDonato,  PhD, LPC, NCC, assistant professor in the College of Health Professions, and Kathy Shaffer, EdD, RN, MSN, assistant professor in the College of Nursing.

Overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people in 2017 in the United States.

Overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people in 2017 in the United States.

Dr. DiDonato and the Jefferson Trauma Education Network will ensure that a trauma-focused lens is maintained throughout all competency development. Drs. Mammen, DiDonato and Shaffer will lead the efforts on curriculum development with a focus on practical approaches and competencies to implement across interprofessional ED teams with input from community partners.

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, the Department of Labor committed more than $22 million across six states for programs to help communities address the economic and workforce-related impacts of the opioid crisis. Overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people in 2017 in the United States, and from 2002-2017, the country experienced a 4.1-fold increase in the total number of deaths, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Philadelphia has the highest overdose rate in the country.

Philadelphia County, through Philadelphia Works, received $2 million of the $5 million awarded to Pennsylvania. Jefferson will collaborate with the other partner Philadelphia County agencies, JEVS Human Services and District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund, focusing on skills development, job readiness and career services.

“Upskill-ED will support ED providers in understanding the complexities of those with opioid use disorder to increase empathy and to foster greater resilience among those on the front lines of this and future epidemics,” Dr. Mammen said.

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Jefferson Announces Raise of Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour for Employees

The increase will benefit more than 1,800 current employees.

The increase will benefit more than 1,800 current employees.

Effective January 2019, Jefferson will increase minimum wage to $15 an hour. This pay increase applies to all 14 hospitals, including Magee Rehab, as well as Thomas Jefferson University, and will benefit more than 1,800 current employees.

“We take seriously our value of putting people first and the important role our employees play in delivering a great experience to those who choose us,” said Bruce A. Meyer, MD, MBA, president of Jefferson Health and senior executive vice president of Thomas Jefferson University. “Providing fair and consistent pay is just the beginning of our efforts to enhance Jefferson’s benefits’ programs for our valued employees.”

For several months, Jefferson has been evaluating an increase in minimum-wage pay, which is currently set at $7.25 by the federal government. Jefferson has grown over the last five years from a $1.1 billion to a $5.1 billion operation and with more than 30,000 employees is one of the largest employers in the region.

“Doing the right thing by patients and employees is ingrained in our values,” added Jeffrey Stevens, executive vice president and chief human resources officer. “This increase to minimum wage supports those standards and helps us work toward achieving our mission of improving lives.”

Additionally, after an analysis was conducted of Jefferson employees earning less than $18 an hour, Jefferson will ensure these rates are adjusted to adequately compensate employees for their work. More than 2,600 Jefferson employees can expect to see this adjustment in January 2019.

The benefits of economic growth over the last few decades have not trickled down proportionately to individuals in the lower income group—with the disparities more evident in larger cities with relatively higher cost of living, noted Philip Russel, PhD, dean of the School of Business at Jefferson.

“An increase in minimum wage sends a powerful message that we care about the quality of life of our employees and will, hopefully, inspire other major private employers in the region to follow suit,” he said. “Understandably, an increase in minimum wage will impose a financial burden, but the incremental costs will more than likely be outweighed by the anticipated benefits of lower employee turnover, increased employee morale and productivity, and contribute to economic growth through higher consumer spending.”

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Jefferson Partners on Philadelphia Fellowship on Inclusive Equity: Philadelphia Magazine, Curbed Philly, Philadelphia Business Journal

Thomas Jefferson University, Drexel University and University City Science Center this week announced that urbanist Richard Florida is the inaugural recipient of the new Philadelphia Fellowship, Philadelphia magazine reported Nov. 29. “The program, an initiative of the three institutions, wants to address some of Philly’s biggest issues like affordable housing and human capital deficits. The goal: Make Philadelphia’s rise equitable and inclusive,” the article said.

The Philadelphia Fellowship also was featured in the Philadelphia Business Journal and Curbed Philly.

“Unfortunately, Richard Florida is right when he talks about an urban crisis. We continue to see disparities between Philadelphia’s neighborhoods that we must address. This is the perfect place to plan the action steps we must take,” Stephen Klasko, president of Thomas Jefferson University said in the statement, Curbed Philly reported.

Read the Jefferson Today story here.

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My Study Abroad Experience…in China!

At Jefferson, studying abroad is just one way students can experience Nexus Learning: our hands-on, interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to solving real world problems.

For our International Business majors, Nexus Learning takes place not only outside of the classroom, but outside of the country. As an International Business major, you will be challenged, and required, to study abroad in a non-English speaking country to experience a truly global business environment. Leah, a senior International Business major, reflected on her time spending a semester abroad learning and working in China.

It’s one thing when you’re going across the pond to study to Europe, but it’s a whole other thing when it’s across the world, specifically to China. I spent two months in the summer studying in China while I was interning at a local nonprofit organization.

Before I left, I had just come home from spending a semester in Paris. I was happy to be home, but at the same time I was ready to leave again. I love to travel and being an international business student has provided me with so many possibilities that I have been able to take. I spent my time researching and preparing for the many differences I would face going to China. For one, I was trying to get myself ready for the language barrier. When I went to Paris, I had four years of French under my belt from high school. When I went to China, I had nothing. As my date of departure neared, I started to become more nervous about leaving. I didn’t know what I was going to walk into, I didn’t know what was expected of me for my internship, and I had no clue if I would even be able to sit through a 14-hour flight.

When I arrived, the culture shock hit me at first because there were so many changes. I think in my entire time I spent there, I probably went through this exact culture shock twice a week. I never realized how intense the heat was there during the summer days. Immediately, the program I was studying through had us go through orientation. Everything I needed to know to survive in China was given to us. We were also tested to see what level of Chinese we would be placed in. In my program, I had to take two classes. One was a Chinese language class and the other was a career-based class that went with my internship. Majority of my time in China was spent between class, working, and trying to see as much as I could. I was lucky enough with my program that we got two long weekends that we could use for travel.

During my internship I was initially told that I was going to be an accounting intern and help with any legal disputes. This was my first realization that people tend to misstate job descriptions about jobs in China because having a higher career status means everything there. A lot of people want a business internship or want something of a high status. Many of the natives there find a Public Relations internship unappealing because it doesn’t have high status. Because of this, it was shocking when I arrived on day one to be told that I was going to be a Public Relations intern. It didn’t know Chinese when I got there, and I was enrolled in a Chinese 101 class at my university. My bosses helped walk me through my responsibilities and were always available when I needed help. I spent a lot of my time updating their website, rewriting old articles that were unclear, contacted advertisers and companies, worked one on one with their marketing department, and rewrote an entire catalog for them. Even though I was given an internship that I might have not applied for prior to my experience, I was able to learn a lot and now I have a great internship that stands out on my resume.

I was shocked that I was able to learn a little bit of Chinese. We started out slow and learned general phrases that helped us out in our everyday life. This was also the first class that I had ever taken that was completely oral. We professor focused heavily on speaking because she knew that we were immersed within their culture on a day to day basis. She wanted us to feel as welcome and comfortable in a very different society. I didn’t realize how complicated the language was until I felt like a one year old trying to make sounds. I was very fortunate that my internship class was taught in English. I only had this class on certain dates, which I was glad about. This let me have more time to explore the city.

Exploring the city led me to the see the Bund, with its glowing view at night, participate in traditional tea rituals, walk through the historical and magnificent gardens, visit Buddhist temples, go to the Yu Garden, and relax in the exotic and fun nightlife. I found my new love of Ma Po Tofu and Noodle Soup. My first trip was taken with my school and they took us to Beijing. I got to see the Summer Palace, visit the Great Wall, and had dinner at the Emperor’s chef’s house. We went to the night market and Tiananmen square. I learned that the Chinese loved Mao. He was a very inspirational and respected figure in their culture.My second trip took me and my friends to Louyang, where I experienced a more authentic China away from the city. I spent majority of my time at the Longman Grottos and Shaolin Temple. I even saw a Monk! We took an overnight train to Louyang and met a Chinese student on the train, who treated us to a traditional water banquet.

Through my time in China, I was able to experience the rich culture and extremely different way of life. I saw different aspects from traveling to very different cities. I loved getting the chance to go to a part of the world that not many travels to and I wish that any student who is presented with the opportunity to go doesn’t shy away because of the differences. I want them to go and have the great experience that my major had given me the chance to explore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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City Workers Learn Innovation Tools and Techniques at Unique Jefferson Program 

During the seven-week program, a group of 20 city employees took classes at Jefferson to introduce them to principles and practice of innovation.

Twenty city employees took classes at Jefferson to learn the principles and practice of innovation.

The sixth class of the Academy for Municipal Innovation (AMI), a unique collaboration between the University and the city of Philadelphia designed to help city workers innovate in their jobs, graduated Nov. 13.

“With now six amazing sets of graduates from AMI, we have reached a critical mass to be fostering a culture of innovation within the cities,” said D.R. Widder, vice president of innovation at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) and the Steve Blank Innovation Chair. “Between the graduates themselves and their mandate to teach their teams what they have learned and serve as innovation consultants to other groups, together we’re having a broad impact on government departments and projects.”

During the seven-week program, a group of 20 city employees took classes at Jefferson to introduce them to the principles and practice of innovation. Coming from areas such as the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Office of Homeless Services, participants learned to integrate tools and techniques of innovation drawn from design thinking, system thinking, business analytics and ethnographic research to discover innovative solutions to complex real-world problems.

Each session taught by Jefferson faculty members introduced practical techniques and tools that could be immediately applied at work to inspire innovation through collaboration, Widder said.

AMI proved to be an invaluable opportunity for Gianna Grossman, the city’s internship program manager in the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, noting she learned new tools to evaluate problems and solutions, design thinking methodology and how to communicate these tools to the city government community and beyond.

AMI graduate Gianna Grossman will look to innovate in the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.

AMI graduate Gianna Grossman will look to innovate in the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.

“With the help of our professors and my colleagues, I used the tools and the cohort’s feedback to take a complex problem of succession planning and look for specific areas where I could affect change—for example, creating pipeline programs,” she said. “The environment of AMI is one where failure or challenges is only a stepping stone to new innovations. Our cohort worked together to always improve upon and support the ideas of our colleagues, with our professors guiding us through the process. AMI has already expanded my network and given me colleagues around the city to workshop ideas with and has equipped me with the tools to innovate when facing stagnant processes.”

Fellow AMI graduate Erica Gibson works as a legal analyst for the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer reviewing and drafting policy for the city’s adjudication departments. Prior to this position, she served as a hearing officer for the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA) where she adjudicated parking ticket disputes.

She found the systems thinking class taught by Radika Bhaskar, teaching assistant professor in DEC Core, and Chris Pastore, professor of transdisciplinary studies, particularly helpful. Through the knowledge gained this fall, she will seek to improve a person’s experience when contesting a ticket at the BAA.

“AMI provided me with the formal training of innovative practices that I can utilize in my work,” she said. “It’s a unique and significant opportunity for professional development, and it has given me the chance to collaborate with a diverse group of people who represent the different departments within the city. I highly recommend the program to any individual who desires to make a significant impact in government.”

Graduate Kevin Eaton, senior GIS project manager in the Office of Innovation and Technology, said AMI helped him develop and refine his skills for innovative thought, project design and management, and effective communication.

“I employ many tactics learned through AMI into daily operations and actively seek opportunities to apply innovation tools taught throughout the course,” he said.

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Fashion Merchandising and Management Pop-Up Raises Funds for Cancer Victims: KYW Newsradio

Fashion merchandising and management students held their annual pop-up shop Nov 28,  raising $2,600 for the charity ChemoClothes, KYW Newsradio reported. The pop-up shop, featuring a range of handcrafted apparel and accessories, is the culmination of several courses that give students experience in business, marketing, design and product display. Jefferson students have raised almost $49,000 for ChemoClothes in the past nine years.

Read the Jefferson Today story here.

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Fashion Pop-Up Shop Raises $2,600 for ChemoClothes Charity

The event revolved around the theme “World of Wonders” with students creating table displays inspired by international locations. This setup had the vibe of a Turkish grand bazaar.

The event revolved around the theme “World of Wonders” with students creating table displays inspired by international locations. This setup had the vibe of a Turkish grand bazaar.

The Kanbar Performance Space buzzed with holiday cheer as 100-plus University fashion merchandising and management students sold clothing, jewelry and accessories they designed and created. The items, including vintage button-up shirts, hair scrunchies, adjustable rings, scarves, chromatic crew necks and emerald necklaces, ranged from $5 to $40.

“Our annual pop-up shop is a celebration of our students collaborating in four courses in the fashion merchandising and management program: global fashion insight, retail strategy and structure, visual merchandising and product development,” explained Nioka Wyatt, director of the fashion merchandising and management program at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University). “Each course focuses on either visual displays or developing product concepts to sell to targeted students with one goal in mind: raising money to support ChemoClothes.”

Sophomore Hannah Costello’s company, RE___, thrifted oversized men’s dress shirts to make vintage button-ups with personal touches.

Sophomore Hannah Costello’s company, RE___, thrifted oversized men’s dress shirts to make vintage button-ups with personal touches.

This year’s event raised $2,600 for the New Jersey non-profit that provides financial support to families affected by cancer. To date, nearly $49,000 has been donated to the organization from the University’s pop-up shops.

Along with the charitable component, students gained lessons in corporate social responsibility and collaboration as they worked to create, market and sell these fashion-forward items, Wyatt said.

Sophomore Hannah Costello’s company, RE___, thrifted oversized men’s dress shirts to make vintage button-ups with personal touches. She cropped some shirts and used the scraps from the excess material for a stitched-on patch of the recycling sign and “recycle” written in Japanese.

“This project gave me more insight into what actually goes on when companies create a product,” Costello said. “Every aspect of each process requires a well-thought-out plan, and I have a whole new respect for entrepreneurship.”

Through the pop-up shop, freshman Julia Eberenz learned the importance of playing up to the team’s strengths and targeting their market audience. She sold pillow shams under the brand Sleeping Pretty.

Fashion merchandising and management students sold clothing, jewelry and accessories they designed and created.

Fashion merchandising and management students sold clothing, jewelry and accessories they designed and created.

“Collaboration, research and assessing our skills was what led to a successful product,” Eberenz said.

The Nov. 28 event revolved around the theme “World of Wonders” with students in Jefferson’s visual merchandising class creating table displays inspired by international locations, noted Camille Avent, visiting lecturer of fashion merchandising and management.

Senior Ashby Steen’s table design for the students selling scrunchies had the vibe of a Turkish grand bazaar. She used a scarf, a drum and bowls from Turkey to give the setup an authentic feel. Other tables drew inspiration from countries like Ghana, Japan, Egypt, Scotland and Peru.

“The annual holiday pop-up is a cornerstone of our Nexus Learning philosophy of offering real-world experiences to our students,” said Juliana Guglielmi, visiting assistant professor of fashion merchandising and management. “This year’s theme, ‘World of Wonders,’ provided an additional layer of immersion by pushing students out of their comfort zones to explore trends from across the globe.”

Listen to the KYW story on the pop-up shop below.

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