Empowering First Impressions

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Payroll Specialist Dawn Moran leapt from processing paperwork to activating a coalition when asked, "We get uniforms, right?" by a new Dining Services hire. "She was so excited that we were providing uniforms," remembers Dawn. "It made me realize what a barrier to feeling confident clothes can be."

Dawn's in exactly the right department to break down that barrier. Her Student Life colleague, Laura Haffield, spearheaded the 2013 opening of Champ's Cupboard, a food shelf designed to stretch tight college grocery budgets. Emulating the process, Dawn got to work soliciting donations for professional clothing.

Even more fortuitous, a copilot with the perfect credentials was sitting right beside her.

Experience Required

Steph Anderson hangs clothes in Bulldog's Closet
Stephanie Anderson prepares UMD's new Champ's Closet for opening

Senior Stephanie Anderson moved to the U.S. for the first time when she became a Bulldog. Her childhood was filled with rich experiences in Asia as her parents worked for a non-profit organization. This meant her freshman year required not just the usual getting used to college life, she also had to adjust to a new culture.

"These experiences really instilled a passion for supporting my community," Stephanie says. "When Dawn started laying the groundwork for the Champ's Closet, I was excited to help."

Her Cultural Entrepreneurship/Communication double major added to her edge. She dove in– helping Dawn with letters to businesses, coordinating logistics, and transforming a storage room into a place that facilitates Bulldogs' dreams: Champ's Closet.

Impressionable Bulldogs

Shelling out for rent, books, and food doesn't leave room in most college students' budgets for business attire, but career experts continually remind job seekers about the importance of first impressions. "When you’re fighting for a top job and you don’t feel good about yourself because you don’t have the right clothes, how sad is that?" asks Dawn.

Champ's Closet is the happy ending to this quagmire. Currently stocked with beautiful, brand new women's clothes donated by maurices, Dawn hopes to add more men's clothing. "We're accepting tax deductible donations in 245 Kirby Plaza. After we get a few more men's clothes, we'll open the closet doors."

Students will then be able to pick out just the right confidence-boosting outfit for their interviews, absolutely free.

More information about Champ's Closet

April 2016

Lori C. Melton

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