YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund to give students the chance to present to industry leaders


Courtesy of College of Human Sciences

Jenny Junker, then-senior in apparel, merchandising and design, was awarded a $35,000 scholarship from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund on Jan. 10.

Emerson Latham

Iowa State students have the opportunity to be flown to New York City and awarded a $35,000 scholarship from the board of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. 

The opportunity is available to any undergraduate student and most students who apply have a focus on retail, apparel, merchandising or design.

There are different tiers for the scholarship, starting with the Fashion Scholarship Fund non-finalists. Applications are scored and the non-finalists are awarded anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, depending upon which score they received on their application. The top award of $35,000 is given to eight top finalists. 

Danielle Sponder Testa, a graduate student in apparel, events and hospitality management as well as a mentor for the YMA Scholarship applicants, won the top scholarship — $25,000 at the time — in 2009.

“To get that top award, you basically do a business presentation to the board of governors in New York before they have the awards dinner, and you present your business plan to them and they ask questions,” Testa said. 

At Iowa State, there are 14 students applying for the YMA Scholarship, with upwards of 700 applying on a national level. 

This scholarship is not based solely on student’s transcripts or resume, but off the given case study. This year the case study is about collaboration — two brands working together.  

Testa said that currently, collaborations are a big element in retail right now. She followed up by stating that to maximize an opportunity in the marketplace and give customers what they are looking for, two brands must come together and work to reach a new idea. 

The students are to come up with a collaboration between a fashion brand and something else, such as another brand or an entertainer.

“I think we have some of the best students in the nation for sure,” Testa said. “So, if I can kind of get students connected to that organization I think it’s great.”

Testa graduated from Iowa State University 10 years ago. Winning the top scholarship award from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund helped kick start her career in the merchandise retailing industry.

“I actually used that scholarship to pay for my masters degree,” Testa said.

Testa said that after getting her masters degree from the London College of Fashion, she moved to Los Angeles and worked for Forever 21 for five years. She now resides in Des Moines and is a mentor for students applying for the YMA Scholarship at Iowa State.

The deadline to submit the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund case study was Monday, and finalists and non-finalists will be announced in December. The finalists will then develop a presentation to give to a panel of industry leaders, with winners being announced Jan. 7.