Several years ago, about 8 or 9, I learned about a program called Principal For A Day. An initiative created by a non-profit organization named PENCIL, Principal For A Day matches New York business leaders with the principals of area high schools to experience first-hand the accomplishments of and challenges facing the city's public schools. The goal of the event is for participants to translate their one-day experiences into long-term relationships that enhance the learning environments at their schools and support student achievement. It was important for me to give back and I thought that sharing some of what I learned could benefit many other kids who were interested in pursuing careers in fashion. So I signed on. I was placed at William H. Maxwell Vocational High School in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn where I met a student named Vaughn. He was considered the star designer of the class garnering the accolades of his classmates and praise of his teachers. However, Vaughn had become a father at the early age of 16 causing some of the school administration to wonder if he would be reduced to nothing more than just another sad statistic. But he was eager to learn and sought out my guidance. So I took Vaughn under my wing. And armed with determination and talent, he has flourished. Vaughn has shown his collection during Harlem Week, a month long festival celebrating Harlem, New York. He was accepted into and has graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.). His work has been featured in local newspapers. And he has completed and won entrepreneurial competitions sponsored by former NBA star Allan Houston and music & fashion mogul Russell Simmons. And he says it began with me. This past Monday, Vaughn took a trip back to his alma mater, William H. Maxwell, and he asked me to join him. His inspiring message to the class was making your passion your career. It was a little like deja vu. But it really was a full circle moment.
Peace & Fashion!