A Little Praise Goes A Long Way

On Oct. 22, Rashaad Nurse '22, received some unexpected praise. During a press conference to introduce the Tommy Hilfiger Gallery that included College representatives, the EC Board of Trustees, local media, and members of the Hilfiger family, Nurse's name came up as Tommy Hilfiger personally thanked a list of people involved in preparing the Gallery.

Hilfiger said, "Rashaad Nurse, our first Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School intern, who has been incredibly successful and at the same time amazingly helpful. Thank you, Rashaad."

Days later, Nurse reflected on the experience of having a fashion icon give him a "shout-out.""It was crazy," said Nurse. "I didn't know he was going to give me a shout-out. I was just doing my job and trying to make sure I'm not in the way. But when he said my name, I felt like a million emotions in my body."

Nurse explained, it was really two emotions: shock and gratitude.

But they are also the emotions that sum up the whole of his internship experience. Nurse had originally planned to get a pre-med degree but struggled his freshman year. When he decided to switch gears and change his major to Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, a teammate gave him some advice. He told Nurse to get Dr. Alison Wolfe as an advisor because of her connections to the fashion industry.

Growing up, Nurse had always enjoyed fashion. He made his own clothes and paid attention to the trends. This was a field he would definitely enjoy. So, he took the advice and from day one, Wolfe worked to secure Nurse an internship within the fashion industry. But he changed programs too late to get one in his first year at EC. Then, in his second year, COVID-19 struck and internships were impacted by lockdowns. This remained an impediment through much of his third year. But in the spring of 2021, he got a message from Wolfe saying she found him an internship. Very soon after, he met his new boss, Betsy Hilfiger, sister of the famed designer, Elmira native, and Hilfiger Family Liaison for the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School at EC which was first announced in April. She is also the curator for the Tommy Hilfiger Gallery that will officially open to the public in January and is situated in Hamilton's Great Hall.

"She's more like a mentor," said Nurse. "She's been guiding me and giving me career tips and teaching me how to carry myself within the fashion industry. She's just a lovely person."

Nurse's internship responsibilities quickly grew as he learned about the press event to introduce the Gallery and further promote the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School.

He joined planning meetings and helped unpack and catalog Gallery items. It was Nurse who thought of asking the athletics teams to help give the Hilfiger family a warm welcome during the press event. Nurse also was able to meet and help PVH's (the company that owns the Tommy Hilfiger brand) Visual Merchandising team who came up from New York City to properly display the Hilfiger family treasures.

"I got to ask each of the team questions and network with them," said Nurse. "They each told me about their experiences and gave me advice."

Nurse is still undecided about where exactly he wants to take his career but meeting the visual merchandising team and being involved in the public relations side of the event opened his eyes to new possibilities he hadn't thought of before.

"This internship has really built the skillsets I need for the field I want to get into," he said. "I'm doing things that are out of my comfort zone. Before the press event, I would never have seen myself managing a group of people, but Tommy Hilfiger asked me to lead him around."

"Having Rashaad Nurse as the intern for the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School has been very helpful; especially with his amazing sense of style and fashion-forward thinking!" exclaimed Betsy Hilfiger. "He is a good listener, eager to learn and not afraid to jump in to assist with any task. Rashaad is showing his strong skills as a leader, is able to lead by example and is not afraid of hard work. He has been a great asset already in a short amount of time!"

Wolfe noted that Nurse's experiences are a great example of the core values of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School. "Rashaad is an exceptional individual and leader on our campus. Our program has a strong focus on experiential learning and real-world experience, and our relationships with industry give top students like him the opportunity to learn the fashion business at a level that goes far beyond the classroom. His work with Betsy Hilfiger and the Tommy Hilfiger Gallery has been a real win-win for both sides."

"I just want to say thank you to Professor Wolfe and the Hilfiger family," said Nurse. "Not just Betsy and Tommy, but Andy, Michael Fredo, and everyone. They've all made me feel welcome and part of something that is bigger than this internship. They've given me opportunities I couldn't find elsewhere."

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