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Osborne Scholarship Gives Grad Students Freedom to Focus

Osborne scholarship grad students

By Susan Fandel

Hannah Dedmon’s passion for graduate studies was sparked in Beirut, Lebanon, where the 23-year-old NC State Wilson College of Textiles alumna was providing relief services to refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war. Unfolding all around her was a waste management crisis, polluting the land and plaguing the people of Lebanon. Dedmon, fresh from a degree in Textile Technology, Medical Textile concentration, wondered how textile applications could restore and prevent this pollution. She was determined to find solutions, so this Charlotte, N.C. native applied to the master’s program at N.C. State’s Wilson College of Textiles to pursue a master’s degree in Textile Engineering.

Now in her first year of graduate school, Dedmon is investigating sustainable methods to create high performance fibers, namely looking at biomass additives that are either waste products from other industries or naturally occurring. With the help of the Osborne Scholarship, a new funding source for some Wilson College of Textiles graduate students, Dedmon is getting a headstart on her goals. The funding will allow Dedmon the time to begin her doctoral coursework in Fiber and Polymer Science while completing her master’s degree.

Dedmon is one of five graduate students in the Wilson College of Textiles who was recently awarded the Gordon and Marjorie Osborne Scholarship. This new scholarship, established by a gift from the Gordon and Marjorie Osborne Foundation to the North Carolina Textile Foundation, gives selected Wilson College of Textiles graduate students the freedom to focus on their studies without worrying about how to make ends meet.

“The Osborne Scholarship has given me the flexibility to pursue fully my studies in Textile Engineering,” Dedmon said. “Sustainability has been a continued passion of mine and I am thankful to have the freedom to pursue this project with the help of the Osborne Scholarship.”

Recruiting and Sustaining Top Talent

Named in honor of the late G. Gordon Osborne — educator, textile scientist and former president and treasurer of Warwick Mills in Rhode Island — and his wife Marjorie, the Osborne Scholarship will allow the Wilson College of Textiles to recruit a competitive and diverse group of graduate students from across the country into the textile field. For incoming recipients, the scholarship provides hard-to-obtain first-year funding for tuition, as well as a graduate stipend.

In addition to a recruitment tool, the Osborne Scholarship provides much-need funding relief to current graduate students like Dedmon who are insufficiently funded. Growth of the Textiles graduate program has outpaced funding growth, leaving many graduate students struggling to cover tuition costs.

“The Osborne Scholarship allows students who have lost their funding, or never had funding, to have a bridge of support to complete their degrees,” said Dr. Jon Rust, interim associate dean for Academic Programs. “How wonderful is that? To help a student who has been struggling financially, scraping funds together semester by semester, to have the pressure taken off a little bit so they can complete their dissertation and earn their doctoral degree.”

Funding from the Osborne Scholarship and other sources like it gives students an opportunity to complete the education necessary to become leaders in academia or industry, much like Gordon Osborne. An instructor at N.C. State in the early 1930s, Osborne was dedicated to the advancement of the textile industry from a business and technical standpoint. Paving the way for a new generation of capable graduates is a fitting legacy for this innovative leader in textile manufacturing.

“We believe the scholarship recipients represent the great potential demonstrated by all your university graduates,” said Karl Spilhaus, a trustee of the Osborne Foundation. “We understand the important position your university occupies in promoting the strength and vitality of the American textile industry.” The Osborne Foundation selected N.C. State to provide the scholarships because they consider the university to be the leading textile sciences university in the country.

2018 Osborne Scholarship Recipients

The first Osborne Scholarship recipients are as diverse as the textile field itself, ranging in focus from fashion to developing polymeric materials. What they share is a commitment to the future of the textile industry and a zest for lifelong education.

Alaric Bryant – M.S., Textiles

Alaric Bryant
Alaric Bryant

Alaric Bryant has a passion for sneakers. Through his research in brand management and marketing, he seeks to answer questions about consumer behavior. For example, what makes sneakers so appealing that a teenager would spend hundreds of dollars on one pair of shoes? Bryant first discovered an interest in textiles through the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP) at the Wilson College of Textiles, and decided to further explore the field after completing his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at Duke University. A Pembroke, N.C. native, Bryant plans to work for a large sports apparel company after graduation.

Brittany Buckner – M.S., Textiles

Brittany Buckner
Brittany Buckner

Brittany Buckner aims to revolutionize ballerinas’ pointe shoes, making them less expensive and more durable. Inspired by three young ballerinas in her family, she has dedicated her master’s research to evaluating the challenges of pointe shoes. Thanks to funding from the Osborne Scholarship, she plans to continue her studies at the Wilson College of Textiles and focus her Ph.D. work on redesigning the pointe shoe. After solving ballerinas’ problems, Buckner will move on to other challenges, finding innovative, efficient solutions for manufacturing processes.

Hannah Dedmon – M.S., Textile Engineering

Hannah Dedmon
Hannah Dedmon

Between her graduate coursework in Textile Engineering, her research assistantship with the Zeis Textile Extension’s Physical Testing Lab and her teaching assistantship with Introductory and Advanced Nonwovens Processing courses, Hannah Dedmon still finds time to improve her Farsi language skills. That’s because Dedmon’s experiences and her dreams take her far beyond Raleigh. Dedmon, a third-generation Wolfpacker, plans to use her textile engineering background to influence environmental policymaking in Lebanon in the area of engineered plastic waste. With her sights set on a Ph.D. in Fiber Polymer Science and a career in academia, Dedmon’s global interests and deep knowledge are preparing her to contribute to society in bold ways.

Javier Jimenez – M.S., Textile Chemistry

Javier Jimenez
Javier Jimenez

In his freshman year at Cornell University, Javier Jimenez was assigned a faculty mentor who taught Fiber Science, and his future in textiles was sealed. After graduating, Jimenez, the first in his family to attend college, followed his love of science and curiosity for textiles to N.C. State, where he began his master’s coursework and work as a lab assistant in the Zeis Textiles Extension’s dyeing and finishing lab. “In the short time here, the Wilson College of Textiles has given me an unmatched, hands-on experience in the world of textile production,” Jimenez said. “I’ve had the pleasure to work with machines that I had only seen in PowerPoints beforehand. These  resources, as well as the guidance of elite faculty, are reasons why NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles is amongst the best in the world.” After completing his degree, Jimenez, whose research focuses on fiber extrusion and surface modification with an emphasis on environmental sustainability, hopes to gain industry experience before launching an academic career.

Deirdra Nance – Ph.D., Textile Technology Management

Deirdra Nance
Deirdra Nance

Nothing will stop Deirdra Nance from achieving her goal of teaching Fashion Design. After years of being told that she needed a Ph.D. to teach, she returned to the Wilson College of Textiles, where she had received degrees in Textile and Apparel Management (B.S. ‘05) and Textile Technology and Management (M.S. ‘08). Nance’s research around the fashion blogger-turned-entrepreneur phenomenon illustrates how fashion enthusiasts take advantage of social media tools in marketing and influence. The Osborne Scholarship will allow Nance to complete her Ph.D and pursue a career as a full-time professor and independent fashion designer.

Written by Alyson Tuck