2017 Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Finalists



Introducing Joanne Kim, Cornell University

Major: Fiber Science and Apparel Design Management 


Hometown: Harrington Park, NJ

What drew you to pursuing a career in fashion?  The first compliment I ever remember receiving was from a Kmart employee who took a look at what I bought and told me that I had "good taste". At the age of 6, I didn't even know what tasting had to do with my clothes, but after quickly learning something new, I beamed with pride for those few words meant that my voice, opinion, judgment mattered and that it was good. It was this voice in fashion that I first identified with and that opened up a window just large enough for me to see the extent of the fashion industry's influence and just small enough for me to want more. I realized then just how powerful retail is, not only to boost an economy but also to boost the self-esteem of other young girls out there aspiring to be much more than what they seem.

What are some of your favorite on-campus and off-campus activities at Cornell?  On campus, I am a member of the Christian fellowship, Cru, and have been fortunate enough to find family within this community. I am also a member on the business development team of Life Changing Labs--an incubator apart of Cornell's entrepreneurship where I have taken part in start-ups and consulting. Outside of school, I primarily enjoy being active through walkathons, 5k's, and participating in some friendly competition whether it be in a game of tennis or a hackathon. 

Where you do you hope to see yourself after graduation? I am over the moon to say that after graduation I will be at The Estée Lauder Companies as a Presidential Associate.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? In ten years, I hope to see myself sitting at a table surrounded by leaders of The Estée Lauder companies. I hope to see myself leading a conversation, smiling, laughing, and most of all, being proud of the work being accomplished and of the people I get to accomplish it with.

In what ways do you hope to make an impact on the future of fashion?  Every day I learn more about how the fashion industry impacts a person's life, whether it be through consumer experience management, visual store layout, product development, investor relations, or even acquisitions and mergers. I am proud to be in this industry and have the tools to make an impression on my peers, my employers, my customers, my buyers and sellers, and ultimately an impression on those also looking to change the fashion industry. The impact of one person can only go so far, so I look forward to guiding others and being guided by those whom have boldly taken on the position as my mentor so that together we can make a greater difference. These differences, I anticipate, expand beyond the customer's experience in the store and with the product to include the brand's relationship with its employees, stakeholders, and competitors.

What has been the most meaningful and impactful part of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund program since winning a $5,000 scholarship? Being a student, there aren't many opportunities to validate our understanding of the industry and our potential to make the difference we dreamed of as young children. Winning the $5,000 scholarship did nothing less than prove to me that I belonged here and at the same time, that there was a long way to go. Through the mentorship and meetings with executives, I inherited insight and wisdom well-beyond my years through a sort of quasi experience made possible through their investment in me. Being a member of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund also connected me with new friends from all over the country whom I intend to work with and stay close to deep into my career.

 What does winning a YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Geoffrey Beene Scholarship mean to you?  The opportunity to win the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Geoffrey Beene Scholarship means that after years of others investing in me, I can finally put my money where my mouth is and take a risk to make an investment in myself. It will allow me to learn more (stand as the basis of capital for if/when I pursue an MBA), take on new and exciting challenges (potentially investing in wearable tech, the convergence of digital and fashion, and start-ups looking to disrupt the industry), and finally allow to me to give back to my community (because after all, it takes a village).