Clothes Closet Moon-Jessica Moon, a sophomore psychology major, looks over clothes at the Career Center Clothes Closet, donated clothing available for free for students who need professional attire. April 17, 2012.

CPP’s Clothes Closet offers new stipend program to students

After the closure of its on-campus boutique due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Career Center developed a stipend program as an extension to its annual Clothes Closet to support students remotely by distributing $50 gift cards along with virtual personalized styling sessions.

The program started accepting applications on Oct. 1 and has since awarded 63 students with stipends. Applications are being accepted through the Bronco Care Basic Needs portal. Although there are no specific requirements other than being an enrolled CPP student, most of the awards are provided to those who demonstrate need. The program, however, is not available to alumni.

Personalized styling Zoom sessions, ranging from 20 to 30 minutes, consist of a questionnaire to analyze each student’s needs and preferences with an understanding of the specific occasion the clothes are being prepared for, such as an interview or a presentation. The style counseling aims to help students build confidence in whatever they choose to wear.

“I think that everybody should feel good in what they’re wearing,” Zakiya Poole, graduate intern of Clothes Closet and second-year animal science graduate student said. “The big emphasis is making sure the student feels comfortable and happy with what they walked away with.”

According to Poole, interns will also be listening to what the students want and their stylistic choices. If needed, they may also shop with the students virtually during the session or build outfits around a clothing piece the student wants to wear.

For those like second-year ethnicity and multicultural studies student Priscilla Munoz, the opportunity to win the stipend helped her financially after losing her job due to COVID-19.

“I feel thankful and honored that I won the stipend,” Munoz said. “A $50 gift card may be nothing to some but, to me, it makes a difference.”

Munoz is a full-time student-parent and serves as ASI’s College of Education and Integrative Studies senator. She said she has a hard time taking care of her daughters and completing school work from home, so she doesn’t have time to shop to choose clothes to wear for her interviews. The stipend program also boosted her confidence and motivated her to keep seeking job opportunities, Munoz said.

Clothes Closet interns compile a lookbook each year to help students coordinate outfits.(Courtesy of Cheryl Love)

The interns that have helped stipend recipients, like Munoz, with stylistic choices come directly from CPP’s Apparel Merchandising and Management Department and have extensive knowledge with the fashion industry.

Second-year student Colleen Kalan, who is one of the Clothes Closet interns, said that despite the pandemic affecting the boutique, there have been a lot of positive reactions with the new stipend program taking its place.

“I didn’t know how this was going to work virtually since everyone knows to go on campus for Clothes Closet,” Kalan said. “But we’ve been super busy with tons of projects.”

For one of these projects, Kalan and Ashley Martinez, another intern and fourth-year student, will participate in a workshop called Getting Styled with Us. The workshop involves interns interacting with students by providing styling tips while ensuring that their resumes and cover letters look professional.

Cheryl Love, coordinator for the Clothes Closet program, said that the program as a whole has many things to offer besides the stipend. The idea to also offer the stipend program was in conjunction with the advisory board for Clothes Closet and donors who kickstarted the initiative.

In the past, donors were able to provide clothing for students and alumni to shop year-round in the boutique. Students were able to take up to six items per semester for free. However, the pandemic has forced the closure of the boutique which has only fueled their desire to evolve and continue to support students, according to Love.

The program will continue past the pandemic to continue to support students with clothing insecurity.

“It is more than just giving someone a gift card,” Love said. “It’s about giving them confidence and empowering them through this program.”

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