After two years of student-led planning, shining scissors cut bright red ribbon on Thursday, Nov. 21, celebrating the grand opening of the Student Government Association Professional Clothing Closet in Milledge Hall.
The SGA Professional Clothing Closet provides professional attire to students at no cost and on short notice. Students may keep the clothing for future use.
Students Sabina Ashurova and Matthew McDaniel recognized the need for access to professional clothing after giving out their personal dress clothes to their colleagues.
“If colleagues in our spheres need this, then I bet there are a ton of students out there that need this too,” McDaniel said. “We started our research phase, and with 1,200 responses, 75% showed overwhelming support that they need professional clothing.”
While McDaniel said he expected the need for professional clothes to be greater with business majors, the research showed the need across all majors.
“At the beginning of each year, students need professional clothing for student organization executive board interviews, then career fairs and networking events come soon after,” he explained. “They may learn on Monday that there is a potential employer coming on Thursday and need the attire on short notice. We saw this closet as the missing puzzle piece for students to have professional success.”
SGA also directs students to the Career Center for resume critiquing, mock interviews and professional advice, he explained.
Alumni, staff and community partners donated more than 2,000 articles of clothing to jumpstart the closet.
“This initiative is expansive and requires ongoing support,” said Patrick Femia, Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication SGA senator.
“They understand the need and are willing to forfeit some of their clothing to donate, and it shows they do whatever they can to give back,” said McDaniel. “Everyone is committed because it is more than a suit…it is the first resource you have as you walk into an interview.”
Hannah Payne, SGA Senate communications director, explained how it also comes down to providing students with confidence.
“When you walk into a room in a good suit, it changes how you feel about talking to the person across the table,” said Payne.
SGA represents all UGA students, and this is a way alumni can partner in making an impact, she explained.
“Everyone needs a champion … someone who says, ‘I believe in you,” and we believe in you at UGA,” said Payne.
Donors and UGA administrators showed their support at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Reed Quad, which featured speakers, a professional clothing fashion show and a tour of the new closet in room 101 of Milledge Hall.
“We are always looking for opportunities to remove barriers for students,” said Victor K. Wilson, vice president for Student Affairs. “With this initiative, students can focus on being their typical best – and not how they’re dressed.”
Christina Thomas modeled an outfit at the event featuring a blazer and skirt through the student modeling organization, the Agency.
She said she felt confident walking across the quad in front of everyone because of the clothes. She wanted her walk to communicate regardless of where a student is financially or academically, they can feel confident because of this closet.
“When I wear something like this, I feel like I can kill any interview,” she said.
Reminiscing on the closet planning process, McDaniel shared the impact he saw during the closet’s trial period. He saw one student at the Career Fair who was able attend because of the closet.
“The student got an interview from the Career Fair and is interning with the company this summer,” he said. “If it made a difference even for that one student, this project paid off.”
“I am very proud of the way our SGA is meeting an important need for our students, and I congratulate them on what they have done,” said University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead.