Beyond the Classroom with Project DIVA
The life of a student is hectic. With class projects, lectures, and homework it can be a struggle to find time for anything outside of school.
But students Megan Quist (Retail Merchandising) and Quinessa Stibbins (Apparel Design) haven’t let that stop them from stepping beyond the classroom and putting what they’ve learned into practice. Both students act as mentors with Project DIVA, a nonprofit based in north Minneapolis that empowers girls to make informed decisions as they transition into adulthood. Meeting with their mentees once a month, Quist and Stibbins answer questions about their studies and act as positive role models.
“My favorite part has been getting to know my mentee. She’s pretty shy so making her comfortable enough to talk to me about school and friends has been really great. It makes me feel good to see her open up like that,” said Stibbins.
Paired with girls interested in apparel design, both Quist and Stibbins have drawn on their studies to give their mentees an inside look at the program. “The College of Design has given me a wealth of knowledge. From business centered classes through my management minor, to more apparel based classes like History of Costume Design, Softlines Analysis, and Textiles Analysis I have really been able to inform my mentee of all retail aspects that go into getting an item onto the sales floor,” Quist explained.
“I talk to my mentee about the skills I’ve found to be the most important in the apparel design program and all the things she will learn if she were to pursue this degree at the University of Minnesota,” added Stibbins.
The Project DIVA program culminates at the end of each school year with a final showcase where program participants display their Project DIVA achievements and dreams to family and friends. This year, the influence of apparel design and retail merchandising will be front and center in the presentations. “My mentee and I are currently working on the logistics and the design for an outfit that she can make all on her own and showcase at the big final show,” said Quist. “It has been a great experience to be a mentor. It brings out confidence in both myself and my mentee,” she concluded.
All photos © Project DIVA.