Columbia Students Awarded Prestigious Fashion Scholarships

head shots of students Columbia College Chicago’s 2023 FSF Scholarship recipients. Top row, left to right: Savannah Applewhite and Tiffany Barney, both of whom were named Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” scholars. Bottom row, left to right: Ivonne Malagon, Emily Hochbaum, and Evelyn Gonzales.
In April, five Columbia College Chicago scholarship winners will travel to New York City where the Fashion Scholarship Fund will recognize the students at a gala event.

The Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) recently awarded scholarships to five Columbia College Chicago students, two of whom were named as Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” Scholars. Each student will receive $7,500 and a stipend to travel to New York City in April. There, they will be recognized by the FSF for this impressive accomplishment and meet with industry leaders and influencers.  

Columbia’s recipients of FSF scholarships are below. Savannah Applewhite and Tiffany Barney were also named Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” Scholars: 

  • Savannah Applewhite (Sophomore; Fashion Merchandising) 
  • Tiffany Barney (Sophomore; Fashion Merchandising) 
  • Emily Hochbaum (Senior; Fashion Design) 
  • Ivonne Malagon (Senior; Marketing)
  • Evelyn Gonzales (Senior; Fashion Merchandising)

The FSF works directly with the country’s most talented young students from diverse backgrounds and awards over $1 million each year in scholarships to help these students succeed in all sectors of the industry including design, merchandising, marketing analytics, and business strategy.  FSF Scholars are seen by the industry as top-notch candidates who offer creative ideas within the context of business realities, says Dana Connell, an associate professor in Fashion Studies and director of scholarship initiatives.

This year there were 513 national case study submissions, with 127 applicants awarded scholarships. Of those 127, 27 students received the Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” Scholarship, including Applewhite and Barney. This fund was launched by the late Virgil Abloh — a fashion designer and entrepreneur who served as artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men collection — to support the next generation of black fashion industry leaders. 

As part of this national case competition, students were presented with a challenge focused on a real issue facing the fashion industry in the student’s discipline.   

Columbia students worked on their case challenges during a spring 2022 course, taught by Connell who continued to mentor students throughout the summer and into the fall with the assistance of practitioner-in-residence Reyes Witt who worked closely with Hochbaum.  

The students individually conducted original research and developed merchandising and design strategies, integrated marketing and merchandising plans, and detailed financial analyses. The students summarized this collaborative work with a 20-page plan book. These materials were evaluated by a variety of industry professionals from brands such as Kohl's, Milk Makeup, Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren, and many others. 

“Unlike typical class projects, completing and submitting an FSF case offers students an opportunity to share their unique ideas in fashion and retail. Even better is when those ideas are endorsed by industry professionals. While it took a bit of cajoling to cross the finish line, each student stretched and persevered to complete their best work,” Connell says.  

Tiffany Barney reflected: “This project has been a labor of love and passion for months, and proof to me that your hard work is rewarded. I am so happy to finally be able to share my work with industry leaders and the world.”  

To see the case studies that helped earn students these scholarships visit the FSF Scholar Portfolio

Congratulations to Savannah, Tiffany, Emily, Ivonne, and Evelyn for this impressive accomplishment.