Members of the Class of 2020 never would have imagined being anywhere else but here at the end of their academic journey. But then again, their college experience has been unlike any other in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Skills developed through research projects, team presentations, internships, student organization meetings, study abroad travel and alternative service break trips have prepared them well for their next chapter in life. Yet, it has been the past two months that have strengthened them to succeed throughout tough times as they begin to carve their own path.

Wilson College of Textiles Director of Career Services Jeff Sackaroff shares this piece of advice to our newest graduates: “As you prepare to enter into this next chapter of your lives, I know that many of you are still determining your next steps or have been forced to change your plans entirely. Like it or not, this virus is definitely teaching us all some valuable life lessons about adaptability, resiliency and grit. Moving forward, I want to remind you that your access to all of Wilson College’s career resources will remain available to you for as long as you need them. Please stay in touch and don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you’d like to schedule a call or Zoom meeting. Congratulations on achieving this huge milestone, and I wish you all the best! Go Pack!”  

Read to learn more about why our graduates chose to study textiles at NC State, their favorite memories and their biggest takeaways, and the path that lies ahead for them.

Fashion and Textile Design

Name: Hira Iqbal

Major: Fashion and Textile Design

Concentration: Textile Design

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

What interested you in your major and the Wilson College of Textiles?

Hira IqbalI have always been a creative person. Coming into college I knew I wanted to pursue a major that expanded on my creative side but also learn something technical. That’s why getting into the fashion and textile design (FTD) program was perfect for me. The Wilson College of Textiles is very impressive in the fact that they offer a wide array of classes and impressive facilities available to students. There are so many resources available, and after doing my research I was drawn to the FTD program.

Throughout your time at the college, what are some of your favorite memories and biggest takeaways?

Some of my favorite memories during college include studying abroad in Florence, Italy, being a part of the Pillowcase Project, and being able to see my designs come to life. Above all, I really appreciate the chance the Wilson College gave me to make some lifelong friends while learning so much at the same time. I think it is important to stop and remember to enjoy the small moments because time flies so fast and pretty soon you’ll be reminiscing on all the memories you have!

What are your plans following graduation?

I am actively pursuing a career in textile design and hope to be working in the industry soon!

Despite your last semester not ending the way you had planned and imagined, what has been the silver lining for you?

Even though this semester didn’t end the way I planned, I know better things are coming. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason and I hold on to that. All of this time away has made me appreciate all of the small things, and I know when things go back to normal we are going to celebrate and appreciate everything so much more!

Fashion and Textile Management

Joanne ZhangName: Joanne Zhang

Major: Fashion and Textile Management

Concentration: Brand Management and Marketing

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

What interested you in your major and the Wilson College of Textiles?

I wanted to combine my love for the fashion industry with the ‘behind the scenes’ of a company. The business aspect of FTM fits my interest perfectly. Additionally, I was able to gain a deeper perspective into the textile industry by learning about textiles to build a stronger foundation and become a stronger and more well-rounded student.

What are your plans following graduation?

I have accepted a role in the Executive Development Program at Macy’s Inc. in New York City on the track of being a Buyer or Planner!

Throughout your time at the college, what are some of your favorite memories and biggest takeaways?

Some of my favorite memories throughout my time in college all consist of the people who make up the Wilson College of Textiles. Professors, faculty and staff in Wilson College have always been so willing to help me and give me advice and I think that is something I will carry on with me into the future. Some of those conversations have pushed me to pursue so many different opportunities like scholarships, internships and jobs! So, my biggest takeaway from my time at the Wilson College of Textiles would be to talk to everyone and take advantage of every opportunity you can!

Despite your last semester not ending the way you had planned and imagined, what has been the silver lining for you?

This last portion of the semester challenged me to utilize all the skills I’ve obtained at the Wilson College of Textiles and be as resilient and flexible as possible. I would say the silver lining of this would be taking time for myself to improve professionally and academically by using my network and learning more.

Polymer and Color Chemistry

Garrett WelshName: Garrett Welsh

Major: Polymer and Color Chemistry

Concentration: Science and Operations

Hometown: Graham, Washington

What interested you in your major and the Wilson College of Textiles?

Polymer and color chemistry (PCC) was the perfect marriage between my love for chemistry and the ability of the application to such a unique industry. PCC is a pretty specific area of study and I enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of that.

Coming into Exploratory Studies, I was assigned a project on the Wilson College of Textiles. I was fascinated with the research that was being done by faculty and institutions within Wilson. It was certainly a drawing force and I wanted to be a part of an innovative organization like that.

Throughout your time at the college, what are some of your favorite memories and biggest takeaways?

Some of my favorite memories include receiving the Textile Military Scholarship, participating in undergraduate research with Dr. Vinueza and studying with classmates well into the night in the atrium.

My biggest takeaway is to get involved as much as you can. Whether it be joining a textiles organization, doing research or making connections with faculty and staff, make your face and name known. I promise you it will pay dividends in your current and future success as a professional, and also help you make the most of your time at NC State.

What are your plans following graduation?

I will be reporting to flight school for the Navy at the end of May in Pensacola, FL as a student naval aviator.

Despite your last semester not ending the way you had planned and imagined, what has been the silver lining for you?

There have actually been a lot of positives to take away amidst the chaos. Managing classes, ROTC and other obligations became much easier with a freed-up schedule. I also became much closer with the friends that I live with because we have more time together. We do things like cook for each other and spend more quality time together than we normally would have, which I hold dear to my heart as the day I move to flight school draws closer and closer. All in all, the relationships and connections in my life have actually strengthened with the increased distance between us.

Textile Engineering

Heather FreemanName: Heather Freeman 

Major: Textile Engineering

Concentration: Information Systems

Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina

What interested you in your major and the Wilson College of Textiles?

I learned about Wilson College as a senior in high school. I knew I wanted my college and future to involve working with people, exploring today’s engineering challenges and impacting our world for a better tomorrow. I felt that textile engineering (TE) offered a unique way to enter an industry with so much potential for innovation.

What are your plans following graduation?

I will be working for Nike Inc. as a Manufacturing Engineer. I will be moving to Portland, OR to work at Nike World Headquarters. My team manages vendor relations, material textile development and capacity forecasting.

Throughout your time at the college, what are some of your favorite memories and biggest takeaways?

The people here made me feel included and challenged me to be the best student and human I could be. I will forever be grateful for my time here, especially with all the other TE’s sitting in room 2115 and then eventually the senior design lab for HOURS on end. I made lifelong friends through this college and I am thankful for that. I will always remember exploring the textile world of Sydney, Australia with Annali and Morgan, laughing beside the fountain with Alex and Julia and (very) late nights with Rosemary working on TE110. My favorite times also include the incredible care and teaching I’ve received from the community. My advisors and professors have meant more to me than I can really explain. I know that I am part of this family for life.

As always, go Pack and go Wilson!

Despite your last semester not ending the way you had planned and imagined, what has been the silver lining for you?

I have seen and felt the love of my NC State family with such an incredible volume. The silver lining of the last few weeks has reminded me of the dedication and compassion of the community members. I am more grateful than ever to be part of the Wolfpack.

Textile Technology

Jasmine RouseName: Jasmine Rouse

Major: Textile Technology

Concentration: Medical Textiles

Hometown: Durham, North Carolina

What interested you in your major and the Wilson College of Textiles?

My care for the health and safety of self and others is what led me to my major. I have had several injuries throughout my dance career where I needed ankle and shoulder support for recovery and healing. A desire to create medical and support devices for dancers and athletes made me become interested in the interconnection of textiles, fabrics and materials.

Throughout your time at the college, what are some of your favorite memories and biggest takeaways?

One of my favorite memories is sitting in the student lounge between classes with fellow classmates and friends as we all encouraged each other to apply for jobs and internships. One of the biggest takeaways is that building early relationships with faculty and staff is very important.

What are your plans following graduation?

I am applying for NC State’s Master’s in Textile Engineering and Georgia Institute of Technology Master’s in Biomedical Innovation and Development

Despite your last semester not ending the way you had planned and imagined, what has been the silver lining for you?

Despite the semester not ending the way I imagined, this time has truly made me cherish the campus community and family I had built throughout my four years. As I move forward into my next adventure, I am reminded of how important the Wolfpack has been in my life.