By Sarah Stone

From the medical field to the fashion industry, our graduates are going great places after they cross the stage with their diplomas this spring. 

Meet graduating seniors from each of our undergraduate programs and see what made their college years memorable and how the Wilson College of Textiles set them up for a successful career. 

Table of Contents

Deja Herelle 

Fashion and Textile Design: Fashion Design
Up Next: Intern for Under Armour
student standing in graduate commons with fountain behind

Attending a STEM-focused high school, Deja Herelle initially planned to pursue a career in medicine. 

“I wanted to be a pediatrician, and my parents were like, ‘You’re not going to be a pediatrician,’” she remembers. “But I was trying to find something that I thought was the right thing to do.”

However, some coaxing from her high school counselors and a week at the Wilson College’s Summer Textile Exploration Program quickly changed her mind. 

“I had started to apply to fashion design schools in New York, but I didn’t even finish my applications once I found out I got into NC State,” she says. “I think I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities that I didn’t expect to come my way.”

During her time at the Wilson College of Textiles, Herelle has been involved both on-campus, where she serves as president of the African American Textile Society, and off-campus, where she interned for Sonoma Intimates. 

“Different people and professors in the college have pushed me to believe more in myself and to go after new things, and I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am if it weren’t for that.”

What has been your most impactful experience at NC State?

My junior year I applied to the Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF), and I was actually a part of the inaugural class of Virgil Abloh Post-Modern scholars.

My project was to pick a cause and pick a company to partner with in order to make that collection come to life, and I chose Adidas and chose racial injustice. So I made my own prints and patterns, which I learned how to do from [Professor Traci] Lamar’s class. 

I was invited to this year’s gala since we didn’t get to go in 2020, and the director introduced us to [editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine] Anna Wintour. It was just so surreal to meet the people in that room.

student at fashion scholarship fund step-and-repeat

What was your favorite course?

I would say the course that I liked the most was draping with Dr. Porterfield, because I didn’t think I would actually like draping. And we also got to use Clo, so I was introduced to that, and that was really just cool to make a pattern and then see it on this little person. There have been so many professors that I feel like have taught me. I learned so much in each of their classes. 

Tell us more about your position with Under Armour!

So I actually applied to UA as a footwear designer, which I completely forgot about and I’ve never designed a shoe. My future manager designed a shoe for NBA player Joel Embiid and Under Armour is trying to develop a team of Black designers under Embiid’s shoe line. So I am working under a footwear designer on Embiid’s line, but I’ll be designing clothes for Embiid’s line.

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Shane Harrington 

Polymer and Color Chemistry
Up Next: Master of Science in Medical Technology and Entrepreneurship (Joint program between NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Shane Harrington has planned to pursue a career in medicine ever since it saved his life. As a teenager, an antibiotic-resistant pneumonia put him in the hospital.

“I didn’t have much hope. I got a miracle antibiotic, and I was surrounded by amazing doctors and nurses. I just fell in love with being able to impact people in that way,” he says.

Fast forward four years and Harrington is preparing to complete a master’s program while he applies to medical school. He chose the joint program between NC State and UNC over multiple Ivy League biomedical engineering programs because “I just love this university.” 

During his time at NC State, he’s built a diverse medical resume, from researching tissue engineering to volunteering as a nurse’s assistant in a COVID intensive care unit.  

Why polymer and color chemistry, and why the Wilson College of Textiles?

I knew pre-med was my path, but I didn’t know what major to choose. During the second semester of my first year at NC State, another polymer and color chemistry student walked me around campus, and I got to meet some of the faculty and administration, and I just fell in love with it. I realized there are so many different things I could do with this degree. I also liked the small town feel of the college. I really got to know my professors. 

What was your favorite course?

PCC 412 with Professor Nelson Vinueza, because I really think it challenged me. Analytical Chemistry is instrumentation. So you’re looking at different methods to analyze chemical processes, reactions, things like that. It gave me not just book knowledge, but it also showed me more hands-on skills that I think will be very useful in the future for research and just critical thinking skills in general.

Which professor impacted you the most?

Words cannot express my gratitude for Dr. King. From the very beginning of my journey into research, he has guided me and tutored me with his amazing expertise in biomedical applications and textiles. His faith in me has truly helped me reach my goals and opened many opportunities I would not have been given if I hadn’t had his support. As I am soon to graduate from the Wilson College of Textiles, I will forever be appreciative of Dr. King, and his presence in this college, and in my life.

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Brianne Haas 

Fashion and Textile Design: Textile Design 
Up Next: Computer-Assisted Design (CAD) Assistant for Abercrombie & Fitch
student standing in graduate commons with fountain behind

For Brianne Haas, college wouldn’t have been the same without time spent in the studio. 

“All of my studio courses have been my favorite. I loved being with the fashion design students our first two years, but then when we really dove more deeply into the software and the individual knit and weaving classes, that really made an impact on me.”

That passion for studio work shines through Haas’ textile design exhibition, which featured processes ranging from digital printing, to faux quilting, embroidery and burn-out patterns. 

What was your most impactful experience at NC State?

I think the competitions that we have at High Point Market for textile design are really helpful, both in terms of getting feedback from those judges, and, of course, it’s really nice when you rank. Those competitions give you the sense of “Oh, this is what I’ve been working for.” 

Tell us about your internship and upcoming job!

I interned as the Hollister boys CAD intern, and then I’ll be working for Abercrombie men’s as an assistant CAD designer.

When I was interning, we were working in the creative development aspect of the summer collection. You’re seeing what’s going on in the markets, picking out the color palette that this season will have and creating a bunch of prints and patterns.

In my new position, I’ll be creating surface design patterns to send out to manufacturers.

Brianne Haas interned for Abercrombie & Fitch in Columbus, Ohio. She left her internship with a job offer.

What advice do you have for current/future students?

If you’re interested in textile design or even fashion design, definitely take your art courses, interior design courses or apparel courses offered in high school seriously, and really work hard on your portfolio. 

Learn time management your first year of college. I spent many all-nighters that first year trying to finish a project and it’s not worth it. 

That first-year studio is going to be hard but worth it. And learn early to not take what your professors say in critiques too personally. 

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Cecilia Huynh 

Textile Technology 
Up Next: Quality Engineer for ATEX
student standing in graduate commons

Cecilia Huynh chose the Wilson College of Textiles for the possibilities. 

“I really liked how versatile textiles are and how they are in every industry. I really liked that flexibility,” she says.

That range of textile applications is definitely represented in the Centennial Scholar’s college experience. The textile technology student has gained experience in apparel, marketing and medical textiles. She even modeled in the Fashion and Textile Design Emerging Designer’s Showcase this spring. 

What was your most impactful experience at NC State?

So the VSA [Vietnamese Student Association] is where I met all of my friends that are dearest to me, and I see them regularly. That was also my first taste of leadership because I was an executive board chair my first year.

Then, my sophomore year, I was in a program where I got to work in every one of the labs in the Zeis Textiles Extension. That really just strengthened my knowledge in textiles and it gave another layer to what I learned in class. Yeah. It confirmed that I really liked where I was, and that this is what I wanted to major in. 

Tell us more about your job with ATEX. What are you most excited about?

ATEX makes components for medical implants. 

I always wanted to do something medical related because I wanted to do something good. If I’m gonna spend at least 40 years of my life doing something, I want to be able to say that something good came out of it.

I interned with ATEX during college in their quality assurance department, and I didn’t realize that I had such a strong liking for quality until I started working for them.

It was always my focus in college as well. Anything I do, it’s got to be 100{362bf5cdc35eddfb2532d3c23e83b41deb229c4410d15cb1127c60150cbd4488} or nothing. 

As a quality engineer, I’ll be part of a team that conducts testing to make sure all of ATEX’s products meet international standards and regulations to make sure they’re safe and effective.

What advice do you have for current/future students?

The biggest one is to not be afraid to fail. That was the first thing that I was told, getting on this campus. And because of that, I’m not afraid to jump into it. I’m not afraid to be the first person to answer a question and get it wrong. I’m not afraid to be like the only person to raise my hand and volunteer for something. I’m not afraid to jump into a new project and have no idea what I’m doing. I found confidence on this campus.

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Amanda Valentine

Fashion and Textile Management: Fashion Design and Product Development 
Up Next: Technical Developer for Nike 
student standing in graduate commons

Fashion runs in Amanda Valentine’s family. 

“My great-grandmother was a seamstress,” she explains. “My grandma and grandpa both worked in the industry. My mom went to the Fashion Institute of Technology.”

When it came time to choose her path in fashion, however, Amanda Valentine preferred the Wilson College of Textiles to her mother’s alma mater. She says she was blown away by the combination of studio resources and industry connections with the sense of community shared by the students.

Valentine dove head first into that community when she arrived on campus, joining the Tompkins Textile Student Council, Greater Good Textile Group and the Phi Psi Textile Fraternity.

She also created her own apparel collection.

What was your favorite course?

I think the most impactful class in terms of content was one I took my first year with Professor Karen Leonas that revolved around the textile supply chain and global sustainability. It was just super eye opening because that was kind of my first real look at the climate and sustainability crisis we’re in. I stopped buying clothes online and started exclusively thrifting or making my own clothes after that class just to kind of close the loop. 

Which professor has had the biggest impact on you?

[Assistant Teaching Professor] Emily Law was super impactful in terms of mentorship. Every class that I’ve taken with her she really is very relatable.

The last class I took with her was our group collection class, FTM 415. She restructured the entire class based off of our recommendations of what we wanted to do. 

Amanda Valentine designed a collection with her classmates in FTM 415 under the direction of Emily Law (center).

And then Professor Kate Annett-Hitchcock is just a wealth of knowledge. Her years in the industry are crazy to me.

You interned with Nike last summer before you were offered a job. What did you enjoy about that internship and what will you be doing with Nike?

I was honestly intrigued more than anything else when I was offered the internship just to see how one of the largest fashion companies runs its global business. I worked in their global apparel materials team on a yarn-specific level. It was my job to contact overseas vendors and to help Nike meet their sustainability target of moving towards more recyclable goods and transferring from 100{362bf5cdc35eddfb2532d3c23e83b41deb229c4410d15cb1127c60150cbd4488} regular polyester to 100{362bf5cdc35eddfb2532d3c23e83b41deb229c4410d15cb1127c60150cbd4488} recycled polyester. So I got to talk to people overseas and talk to people in different departments. I think my 10 weeks there solidified that they are one of the leaders in the industry that are pushing towards a more sustainable industry. I wanted to work for a company that holds that in mind, and then they also really look out for their employees. Over the summer, they gave us a week off for mental health.

There are two roles I could end up filling at Nike, and they haven’t decided which one yet. One would be a color specialist. That would be working in the dye houses in a combination of trend forecasting and color chemistry. The other option would be a sustainable materials developer, and that’s more in line with what I was doing over the summer. 

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Madeline Sabbagh 

Fashion and Textile Management: Brand Marketing and Management 
Up Next: Allocation Analyst for TJX Companies 
student standing in graduate commons

When she first enrolled at the Wilson College of Textiles, Madeline Sabbagh had two goals – graduate with a job in the fashion industry and explore a big city outside of North Carolina. 

She’s achieved both, securing a job with TJX Companies –  the parent company of Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Homegoods – in Boston. 

Why brand management and marketing, and why the Wilson College of Textiles?

In high school, I took a lot of apparel and fashion merchandising classes and really liked them, so I knew I wanted to pursue that as a career. I also knew I wanted to go to a school that was more than just an art or fashion school. I wanted that typical college experience. Also, there’s more of a technical side to the Wilson College of Textiles that a lot of programs at other universities don’t offer. I thought it was important to get that science and math background too.

What was your favorite course?

For a lot of my concentration classes, I had to perform an analysis on companies and come up with marketing plans for them. That’s come in handy because I have to do a lot of that for my marketing internship now. 

Also, I’m taking the retail buying class now, and that’s been one of my favorite classes because I can see what I’m going to start doing like when I graduate. 

What will you be doing for TJX?

I’m going into their merchandising career path as an allocation analyst, so basically, I’ll be working underneath the buyers.They’ll be buying the clothes, and then I’ll help them pick which stores those items are going to.

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Tashana Flewwellin 

Textile Engineering 
Up Next: Textile/Foam Engineer for Stryker 
student standing in graduate commons with fountain behind

When she wasn’t building her career through internships at Stryker, NAVAIR and Coats, Tashana Flewwellin was using her college experience to make the world better for others. 

She served as a peer educator for The Movement at NC State’s Women’s Center, working to end interpersonal violence at the university. She traveled to Rwanda with Women and Minority Engineers Programs to hold workshops for middle schoolers. 

Flewwellin will continue that track record for helping others with her upcoming job as Strkyer, innovating medical textiles for use in hospital beds and ulcer prevention. 

Why textile engineering, and why the Wilson College of Textiles?

I actually started out in aerospace engineering. I realized I wanted to be a bit more hands-on and work with aviation materials, so I switched to textiles. 

Now, it’s important for me to make sure that students are not deterred from wanting to be in textile engineering because when people hear “textiles,” everybody thinks fashion, and it’s definitely not fashion. I don’t like when people think that when I say textile engineering.

This semester, I’ve been helping Professor Jeff Joines and Professor Russell Gorga develop textile engineering workshops for the College of Engineering’s summer camps.

Which professor has had the biggest impact on you?

Professor Jesse Jur was my research principal investigator for two-and-a-half years, and even though he’s on sabbatical right now, he came back for our Senior Design poster session in the fall to see how my internship went and if I accepted a job with Stryker.

I was part of a research group working for Dr. Jur and Dr. [Amanda] Mills for two-and-a-half years. I got to work on e-textiles like ECG [electrocardiogram] shirts, where we started out in looking at how to adjust the fit of an ECG shirt. We wanted to kind of create a one-size-fits-all kind of manufacturing process. I also researched wearable armbands and all of the different factors that went into that, including form and materials.

Professor Jeff Joines has helped me in a lot of my textile engineering courses and still checks in with me now. I also worked with him on writing curriculum specifically for textile engineering outreach. 

Tell us more about your job with Stryker!

Tashana (center) presents her group’s Senior Design project about visual brand language for Stryker.

So I interned there during the summer, and I continued my internship throughout my senior year.

I really like their company culture, and they definitely focus on morale.

Stryker works on pressure ulcer prevention and support surfaces in hospitals. I’ll be helping innovate a new version of one of their four support surfaces. 

I think that all of their projects are really cool, and they’re really impactful. And it’s not just creating something “just because” for a consumer. I love that each thing Stryker does has a purpose.

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