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Fashion Design Student Named First Recipient of the Michael Kors Endowed Scholarship

Kim Nguyen, a third-semester Fashion Design student at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), is the first recipient of the Michael Kors Endowed Scholarship. The announcement was made on September 4, at the Couture Council of The Museum at FIT’s annual luncheon, which honored Michael Kors with its Artistry of Fashion Award.

Fashion designer and FIT alumnus Michael Kors donated $1 million to FIT to establish this endowed scholarship, to be awarded annually to a Fashion Design student who demonstrates exceptional talent in Fashion Design but whose educational endeavors are limited by financial constraints. All costs associated with a bachelor’s degree program at FIT, including tuition, housing, materials, and books, are covered, as is a year of study at FIT’s program in Milan, Italy, at Politecnico di Milano. The scholarship also provides mentorship and the opportunity to intern at Michael Kors.

“We are deeply grateful to Michael for his generosity,” said Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president of FIT. “His scholarship is unusual in that it covers all of its recipients’ expenses:  tuition, housing, books, equipment, and study abroad. It offers a rare opportunity for FIT students and is a measure of Michael’s commitment to developing young talent and his dedication to FIT.”

"Kim has that perfect blend of youthful curiosity and sophistication that is well beyond her years,” said Michael Kors. “She is an unabashed modernist with talent, creativity and a lot of personal style. I am very excited that she's the first Michael Kors scholarship student."

The process for selecting Nguyen was competitive and rigorous, with financial need and an exceptional GPA as requirements. Candidates interviewed with Joanne Arbuckle, dean of FIT’s School of Arts and Design, as well as with a scholarship committee that reviewed the candidates’ academic and creative abilities. Five semi-finalists presented portfolios to Kors and were interviewed by him. Nguyen and Kors spoke via SKYPE, as Nguyen was studying in FIT’s international study abroad program at Polimoda International Institute in Florence, Italy.

A native of Houston, TX, Nguyen has known since childhood that she wants to be a fashion designer in New York City. However, financial constraints made the road to FIT a circuitous one. After attending the University of North Texas, Nguyen transferred to the University of Houston to major in Marketing. She entered FIT’s Fashion Design program in September 2012 to hone a modern design aesthetic that she describes as “blending different cultures to create one singular theme, with elements of alternative, youth and sub-cultures.” She describes the type of woman who inspires her as “a contemporary, creative person who has become successful due to her independence and self-reliance.”

“I am grateful to have even been considered for this scholarship,” said Nguyen. “My financial struggle has been difficult, and this really builds confidence in my design ability. I’m honored to have this recognition.”

Michael Kors is a world-renowned, award-winning designer of luxury accessories and ready-to-wear. His namesake company, established in 1981, produces a range of products through his Michael Kors, KORS Michael Kors, and MICHAEL Michael Kors labels, including accessories, footwear, watches, jewelry, men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, and a full line of fragrance products. Michael Kors stores are operated, either directly or through licensing partners, around the world, including New York, Beverly Hills, Chicago, London, Milan, Paris, Munich, Istanbul, Dubai, Seoul, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

Fashion Institute of Technology, a college of the State University of New York, has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology for nearly 70 years. With a curriculum that provides a singular blend of hands-on, practical experience, classroom study, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, FIT offers a wide range of outstanding programs that are affordable and relevant to today’s rapidly changing industries. The college offers more than 45 majors and grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the global marketplace.

FIT’s Fashion Design program was established in 1944, the year the college was founded. The associate-degree program provides students with an essential foundation for creating apparel from sketch to finished garment. In the baccalaureate program, students receive advanced instruction in specialized areas. The program’s close ties to the fashion design industry provide an immersion in current trends and practices. As part of their course of study, students intern with leading designers and design houses. They also have the opportunity to study abroad, in particular at one of FIT’s programs in Florence and Milan. 

Acclaimed FIT designer alumni include Reem Acra, Amsale Aberra, Brian Atwood, Jhane Barnes, John Bartlett, Dennis Basso, Stephen Burrows, Francisco Costa, Andrew Fezza, Norma Kamali, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Nanette Lepore, Miranda Morrison, Rebecca Moses, Ralph Rucci, Kari Sigerson, Michelle Smith, and Daniel Vosovic.

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