Student Spotlight


Katie Kelly

Katie Kelly

Katie Kelly, fashion merchandising major, is interning at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Destin, Florida. She works at the three retail stores onsite. Last summer, she worked as a seasonal retail sales associate at the resort. She loved it so much she came back this year to complete her internship. Her favorite part of the internship is the location. "I also love the brands we carry in our stores and the opportunities we have to work with each brand." She said her professors and instructors at MSU have prepared her for the internship. "Everything is going great and I'm still learning a lot. I can't wait to take everything I'm learning back to MSU in the fall and continue building my knowledge of fashion merchandising." She said the biggest lesson has been the amount of hard work that goes into keeping the stores running smoothly. "I have learned so far that running three stores is very hard work and working as a team with all of my coworkers is the only answer to all of the madness that goes on from open to close," she said. She chose her major because she's passionate about fashion merchandising. "I know that my future job will be something I love doing. The opportunities out in the world for my major are endless!" she said.

Jane Spivey Mortimer

Jane Spivey Mortimer

Jane Spivey Mortimer has been in love with fashion since she was six years old. The fashion design and merchandising major says the fashion industry is ever changing and always exciting. She looks forward to being part of such a prestigious field. Her favorite part of the college is the diversity. "I have friends in human development and family studies, agronomy, agricultural information, pre-vet, and so much more that share the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with me." Her defining moment at MSU is the day she finished her first design. "I created the pattern, dyed the fabric, and altered the garment to fit perfectly and it made my dreams a reality," she said. To students considering this major at MSU, Jane advised them to get out of their comfort zone and meet the wonderful people in their major. "They are so different and you can learn so much from your friends in this major. The human sciences major at MSU has prepared me above and beyond my expectations for my future."

Beth Baugh

Beth Baugh

Human Sciences major Beth Baugh enjoys all the opportunities the major offers. "There are so many clubs and volunteer opportunities open to students. It gives everyone a chance to find where they feel most at home," Beth said. She is most excited to apply to occupational therapy school after graduation. "The major covers such a broad spectrum of topics and fields. It gave me the space to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life." She was previously in a major that wasn't a fit. When she shifted to human sciences, she began enjoying classes. She also got involved with various organizations. For prospective students, Beth says that there is a sense of being at home at MSU. "I would recommend MSU to anyone considering a career in the field of Human Sciences," Beth said.

Gracie Jackson

Gracie Jackson

Gracie Jackson is working this summer at AmericasMart in Atlanta, GA. The Fashion Design and Merchandising major has always been interested in fashion. It has been a source of inspiration and self-expression. She prefers the business side of the industry. That's why she is also majoring in business administration. She has enjoyed seeing how the different departments go into planning markets. "The final outcome seems so complex but the responsibilities are broken down to make it all possible," Gracie said. She credits teamwork and meeting deadlines as the skills learned at Mississippi State. She said these skills have been the most valuable in her internship. She has learned to be true to herself and her opinions during this time. Gracie has enjoyed interning for AmericasMart. "This is my first time moving to a big city on my own and experiencing a 9 am-5 pm job in a corporate workplace. It is fantastic," she said.

Mallory McGuffee

Mallory McGuffee

Mallory McGuffee is an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is a fashion merchandising major in the School of Human Sciences. "I chose this major because I would like to work with women who face the challenge of low self-esteem and self-confidence." She said the study of fashion can have a bigger impact than most people think. She said the element of surprise is what excited her most about her academic endeavors. "I have no idea where this course of study will lead me. Will it lead me to a big city where everyone is fashion forward? Will it lead me back to my hometown where I might open my own bridal boutique? Wherever the road takes me, I will surely be prepared based on my experience at Mississippi State University." Her favorite part of the major is that the department offers many opportunities for exposure to the many facets of the industry. "There are so many learning and networking opportunities that range from study tours to the introduction of department store executives at student meet and greets. Additionally, the National Retail Federation Student Association also actively pursues prospective guest speakers, tours, and events to broaden the horizons of its membership." Her most meaningful moment at MSU was working on her end of the year project in Product Development II. "As I was beginning to have reservations and doubt myself, my peers voted my project as the winner of the project showcase. Having my fellow students validate my hard work really made a lasting impression and has only served to inspire me to be my best self." She also discussed the challenges of the major. "I have had to work harder and dig deeper and really push myself to be more creative than I ever thought I could be. I have found this coursework to be exciting, terrifying, and challenging, and I would encourage those considering this course of study to commit to this program and to the university. Do not be afraid of hard work. Learn from the best so that you can be the best!"

Dara McCluskey

Dara McCluskey

Dara McCluskey is studying fashion design and merchandising at MSU. She's spending her summer in New York City working for the Rialto Jean Project. It's an eco-friendly philanthropic denim brand. The brand's proceeds go to children's art therapy. "The thing I like most about my internship is that I have a boss who lets me dabble in every aspect of the company. I've already learned so much and I'm getting such a broad range of experiences." She chose the internship because she wanted to be in a small environment under a large company. "It's a small storefront and large brand. It combines the fast pace and industry involvement of a large company with more responsibility and attention."

Elizabeth Biddle

Elizabeth Biddle

Elizabeth Biddle is a human sciences major with a concentration in fashion design and merchandising. She is interning at Nordstrom in St. Louis, Missouri. "I love that I feel like I'm part of the Nordstrom family by being an employee. You can really tell that the company values every employee," she said. Elizabeth said being friendly and curious will get you to great places. "I helped a woman one day and it turned out she was a former fashion director at Saks. She even asked for my business card because I helped her find a dress for a cocktail party." Elizabeth said she chose the major because her mom had nine siblings growing up and always wore hand-me-downs or made her own clothing. "Since I'm an only child she spoiled me with tons of clothes growing up. When I was in high school all my friends would come over and ask to borrow clothes or help them pick something out at the mall. When I learned that you could actually major in fashion and merchandising I knew that's what I was meant to do! I've always dreamed of working for a luxury retailer." She said her dream job is working at the first retail Nordstrom in New York City, set to open the year she graduates. She has advice for students seeking internships. She sought the highly competitive Nordstrom internship. "I started applying 6 months in advance. Don't put off applying for an internship just because the application process can be long. The early bird gets the worm!"

Jesse Newton

Jesse Newton

Senior Jesse Newton of Eupora really did not expect a response when emailing Iva Ksenevich, whom he had been following on Instagram. According to the Mississippi State human sciences/fashion design and merchandising major, only in his wildest dreams would the international haute couture hat designer respond to his inquiry - then offer a six-week internship to study millinery with her in Moscow, Russia. Ksenevich's creations are world-renowned for their feather, trim, beadwork and small-detail embellishments. For more, see www.ivaksenevich.com/aboutiva. "When I reached out to her, I just assumed she was in New York; I hadn't even looked," the university Dean's List Scholar said. "She told me I'd need a Russian visa in order to work for her." Undertaking a summer travel and study experience more than 5,500 miles from home clearly was driven by this most-unexpected opportunity. Even though he "probably won't go into hat making when I graduate," Newton said he knew working with Ksenevich could help him develop the intricate skills needed for a successful career. "I'm not as detail-oriented as I'd really like to be, so having more experience hand sewing, beading and working with very small, intricate things are helping my design process," he said. The stay in Russia's capital involved 10-hour workdays during which Newton hand sewed hats, and even a few gowns. Afterwards, he often joined another intern to take in sites of the major world city. One night, just because they could, "my roommate and I sat outside the Russian ballet and ate popcorn." There also was a good amount of alone time, some of which Newton filled by eating breakfast in Red Square each workday. "Really, though, after a full day sometimes I just went home and watched Netflix. It's incredibly satisfying to hear your native tongue when you've been listening to a foreign language all day." In addition to honing his skill sets, Newton said learning to develop a strong sense of design independence was an unexpected internship benefit. The impulse to second-guess his work and a need to constantly ask if things are being done correctly quickly became non-issues as Ksenevich taught him to trust his instincts and common sense. Newton remains challenged to accept the reality of it all. "We were doing photoshoots and sending lookbooks off to places like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. I still can't believe she said yes to me. It definitely taught me not to be afraid to ask; the worst she could have said was no. "Instead, I got the opportunity of a lifetime from it."