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Graduating in style: New alum looks to impact fashion industry

Noelle White’s passion for fashion is easily traced to her ability to incorporate good design with a flare of creativity. This mix led the spring 2022 Carson-Newman graduate to become the first honors fashion merchandising and design student in the University’s history.

Blending timeless patterns with a forward look to the future was a driving force behind White’s “transformable apparel” project at C-N – a dress that seems to have it all. Featuring layers for various occasions, the garment can quickly modify depending on the event.

“The first look is intended to be much more business appropriate, very sheik, a little more classic with the use of black and white and classic patterns,” explained White. The intent allows the garment to be kept for years as the look isn’t dependent or impacted by fashion change.

If an occasion calls for a more casual look, a simple tug and pull of the dress’ belt allows the bottom portion of the ensemble to flip and transform into a more befitting look and style.

“My desire was that one day it could be a launch pad for potentially for an entrepreneurship opportunity for me to use this idea and maybe build a sustainable company around it,” White said. “I think that it’s cool looking towards the future to potentially think about trying to create a business model that uses this idea of sustainable, transformable apparel.”

Though she admits that she never dreamed of graduating with honors, there is no denying White flourished within the University’s Family and Consumer Sciences Department. Graduating summa cum laude, the Easley, South Carolina, resident earned the President’s Academic Award. She was named Family and Consumer Science’s Outstanding Graduate and garnered Carson-Newman’s W.D. Hudgins Leadership Award, all honors that were announced during Spring Commencement.

“A couple of those awards, I didn’t know I was receiving and wasn’t expecting,” White said. “It was a good affirmation for me from faculty that they were recognizing the work I had done. It was just super encouraging.”

In retrospect, White says she cherishes her time studying at Mossy Creek. “This program has been really good because it’s covered the whole scope of the industry and the entire product development process,” she said. “I’ve really been equipped to go into any part of the field, but I love the design aspect, and I think I would really enjoy being a retail buyer for a company and choosing what products they sell.”

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