Tiger Career Closet ready to send students down the professional runway of life

November 09, 2017

First lady Deborah Elaine Bynum prepares to cut the ribbon signaling the grand opening of the JSU Tiger Career Closet as she is flanked by those who helped bring her University initiative to fruition. (Photo by Anissa Hidouk/JSU)

First lady Deborah Bynum prepares to cut the ribbon signaling the grand opening of the JSU Tiger Career Closet while flanked by those who helped bring her university initiative to fruition. (Photo by Anissa Hidouk/JSU)

Alisha Newell

Students laced head to toe in 9 to 5 office garb ripped the runway inside of Jacob L. Reddix Hall during a fashion preview and ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 1, for the Tiger Career Closet – an initiative led by the first lady of JSU, Deborah Bynum.

Jackson State University's first Mister JSU, DeAngelo Riddle, modeled one of the suits he donated to the initiative. (Photo by Anissa Hidouk/JSU)

Jackson State University’s first Mister JSU, DeAngelo Riddle, modeled one of the suits he donated to the initiative. (Photo by Anissa Hidouk/JSU)

Intended to help currently enrolled JSU students in need of professional attire, the idea for the career closet stems from a conversation Deborah Bynum had with a close friend and fellow first lady years earlier.  She would later launch a closet at Mississippi Valley State while her husband, Dr. William B. Bynum, Jr., was president.

“Everyone came together for the good of the initiative and the good of the students,” said Deborah Bynum as she greeted guests.

The ribbon-cutting event was brought to life as members of the university’s Insatiable Modeling Squad and Blue Ambassadors organization showcased outfits available in the career closet. From dresses and suits to shoes and accessories the closet appears to have it all.

At the end of the fashion preview, the first lady appeased attendees by also taking a turn down the catwalk to the beat of thunderous applause. She then gave remarks and expressed how much the look of the Tiger Career Closet exceeded her expectations.

“I am really impressed with the way everything turned out. The closet is beautiful, and I am excited that this resource will be available to our students.” She said, “I am so grateful to everyone who donated their time and energy to this project.”

Employees of the Department of Facilities and Construction Management created the career closet based on the design ideas from the first lady who said the finished product was more than she could have imagined. (Photo by Anissa Hidouk/JSU)

Employees of the Department of Facilities and Construction Management created the career closet based on design ideas from the first lady who said the finished product was more than she could have imagined. The closet will be managed by JSU’s Department of Career Services. (Photo by Anissa Hidouk/JSU)

Forged by members of Jackson State’s Department of Facilities and Construction Management, the career closet looks as if it could be straight out of the pages of a Vogue magazine.

With walls painted JSU blue, grey and white, it boasts two full dressing rooms, several built-in dressers, an island and multiple levels of shelving. A modern lighting fixture is one of many embellishments that help to balance out the closet’s chic sophistication.

The first lady also said that she truly believes in the power of first impressions and plans for the career closet to help Jackson State students positively represent themselves and their institution from now and years to come.

“The career closet is free for students because I hope that one day they will pay it forward just like someone paid it forward for them,” Deborah Bynum stated.

Wearing a suit donated by first lady Deborah Bynum, a student model struts down the make-shift runway inside of Jacob L. Reddixx during the fashion preview of the Tiger Career Closet. (Photo by Anissa Hidouk/JSU)

Wearing a suit donated by first lady Deborah Bynum, a student model struts down the make-shift runway inside of Jacob L. Reddix during the fashion preview of the Tiger Career Closet. (Photo by Anissa Hidouk/JSU)

When asked which outfit in the career closet was the most professional for an interview, she immediately went to a mannequin adorned in a black, two-piece women’s suit. She referred to the suit as classy as she admired the long sleeve multi-buttoned blazer, knee length skirt and pearl necklace.

Student model Chareese Smith said: “I feel like the Tiger Career Closet is something that we honestly need here at Jackson State because when preparing for an interview a lot of students don’t know what to wear and they lose confidence in themselves.”

The university’s first Mister JSU, DeAngelo Riddle, was also one of the student models for the event. He donated a suit to the initiative and even modeled in the show. Riddle said he really connected with the Tiger Career Closet and felt like it was something that would help mold future students into professionals.

“My freshmen year I did not have any professional clothes,” Riddle expressed. “Three people on the campus, Dr. Laquayla Coleman, Mrs. Eltease Moore and Mr. Arron Richardson, helped me by giving me clothes.  So, I wanted to make sure that I returned the favor.”

Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Susan Powell also worked steadily with the first lady and members of the Tiger Career Closet committee to garner donations and sponsorships.

“I have to commend the entire Division of Student Affairs,” said Powell. “My team and I collected $350 in one day and still have more money and donations coming in for the closet.”

Powell emphasized the importance of students utilizing the career closet to their advantage because it was created strictly for them.

Students can receive one free professional outfit per academic year by scheduling an appointment at http://www.jsums.edu/tigercareercloset/policies/.

Following the scheduling of an appointment, students must be punctual, be willing to try on various pieces and be open to receive guidance and tips on professional fashion.

For more information on how to donate gently worn items or make monetary contributions, please select the following link: http://www.jsums.edu/tigercareercloset/make-a-donation/