Three Auburn University students named YMA Fashion Scholars

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Three Auburn University students in the Apparel Merchandising, Design and Production program in the College of Human Sciences were named YMA Fashion Scholars, earning $5,000 competitive scholarships from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund.

Sara Gardner and Hannah Blevins, both seniors in apparel merchandising, and Kelsey Reynolds, a senior in apparel design, were selected along with 122 other fashion students from 38 colleges and universities across the country as YMA Fashion Scholars. All recipients were recognized recently at the annual YMA FSF Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

The selection process requires sophomore, junior and senior students to complete essays, creative presentations and interviews with industry executives. This year’s case study challenged students to develop a new fashion line aimed at tweens for a company involved in fashion and flash sales. Students developed a design strategy for the new line, or a financial and merchandising strategy for it.

Blevins said she didn’t expect to win such a highly competitive scholarship; she competed to say she tried.

“This organization really believes in its scholarship winners and expects them to be the top leaders in the industry,” she said. “It is such an honor to have been chosen and I am happy to be one of the three to represent Auburn University.”

Reynolds agreed, adding that the financial award is important for college students, but the amount of support and insight she gained from the entire experience and the opportunities she has now as a winner are priceless.

“Though this scholarship required a great amount of work and effort, I was able to learn a lot that I will be able to apply in my future career in the fashion industry,” Gardner said.

The annual awards dinner is the primary fund raising event for the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. The scholarship program received a huge financial boost in 2006 when the estate of Geoffrey Beene, an American fashion designer, left a $1 million endowment for the program.

YMA scholarships were initiated in 1971 to encourage the best and the brightest to pursue careers in the apparel industry. Besides the financial component, there are mentoring and internship programs available to scholarship recipients.

Auburn has had 25 scholarship recipients since it was first invited to submit nominees for the 2005 scholarship program. In 2012, Auburn’s Mary Hester Hill was a finalist for the Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship. The competition is only open to one student from each school that had received a $5,000 scholarship the previous year. Hill completed the competition as a runner up, receiving a $10,000 scholarship.

(Written by Amy Weaver)

Contact: Carol Warfield, College of Human Sciences, (334) 844-1329 (, or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (