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Kent State Fashion Student Wins Prestigious $30,000 Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Award

Posted Jan. 30, 2012 | Foluke Omosun

Kent State fashion merchandising senior Kate Ruque won a $30,000 Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Award from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund for her case study about fixing an ailing firm in the fashion industry.

Kent State fashion merchandising senior Kate Ruque has won a $30,000 Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Award from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF). Ruque received the award during the YMA FSF Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards Gala, celebrating the organization’s 75th anniversary, on Jan. 10, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel ballroom in New York. The event brought together influential members of the fashion industry.

The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund seeks to advance the fashion industry by encouraging gifted and enterprising people to pursue careers in design, merchandising, retailing and business. The not-for-profit organization is made up of members of the fashion industry, dedicated to promoting education of the fashion arts and business. Kent State University is a member school of the organization.

“I am so honored to have won this scholarship,” Ruque says. “I feel that I’ve gotten an amazing education at Kent State, both in the fashion and business schools, so I’m proud to have represented the university in a national competition.”

To qualify for one of four $30,000 Geoffrey Beene scholarship awards, students submit a case study in the preceding year for a preliminary scholarship award of $5,000. Any member schools whose students win a preliminary scholarship are able to nominate one student to compete for the bigger Geoffrey Beene scholarship awards. Nominated students are required to complete the Geoffrey Beene case study and after initial review by the YMA FSF Scholarship Committee, eight finalists are invited to present their case study in New York, with four winners selected to receive the awards.

“We nominated Kate for the Geoffrey Beene scholarship award because she presented the strongest project in the first-round competition in 2010,” says Kent State Fashion Merchandising Associate Professor Nancy Stanforth, Ph.D.

Ruque’s case study about fixing an ailing firm in the fashion industry took her to the final round of the competition.

“Our task in the competition was to find a retailer whose business was failing,” says Ruque. “We then had to redesign their business plan. The company I chose was close to bankruptcy, so I had to spend a lot of time studying their financial statements in order to find the source of this problem.

“I also redesigned their marketing strategy and created an innovative digital campaign. For the fashion element of the product, I needed to redesign the company’s product mix, for which I spent a lot of time reading books and doing Internet research to find general trends in the retail industry that I could apply to the project.”

“Kate’s focus on the financial aspects of the firm, not just the visual aspects of the store, helped her to present a strong case for turning the firm around,” Stanforth says.

According to Stanforth, Kent State’s membership of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund not only provides scholarship opportunities for students, but also introduces them to professionals in the industry.

“Clearly, this is the single, largest scholarship any student in The Fashion School has won,” Stanforth says. “Just as importantly, is that it was won in a national competition and based on Kate’s work, not just her past academic performance. It is a chance for the fashion merchandising program at Kent State to gain national recognition for the high-quality of student work that is being completed in the school.”

For Ruque, attending the gala in New York was an amazing experience.

“I had the opportunity to network both with other students and also with executives in the fashion industry,” she says. “Since the gala, I’ve been receiving calls and emails from companies interested in interviewing me for jobs. I’m so thankful for everything I have learned through completing this case study and also for all the opportunities I have been presented with through the Fashion Scholarship Fund.”

Three Kent State fashion merchandising students, Lexi Fairley, Lindsy Bezila and Jenae Green, are currently being considered by The Fashion School as nominees for the 2013 Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Award.

For more information about The Fashion School, visit For more information about the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund, visit