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Madi Jenkins Learns Global Leadership, Gets Inspired by Fashion Abroad

Wilson College student Madi Jenkins posing in front of a bridge during her study abroad in Europe.

By Mary Giuffrida

For Wilson College of Textiles student Madi Jenkins, going abroad wasn’t just a chance to sightsee, it was the opportunity to spend a semester learning global leadership skills with other talented NC State students. 

See Jenkins, a rising senior studying fashion and textile management (FTM) with a concentration in fashion development and product management, was one of 16 students in this semester’s Global Leadership and Team Decision-Making Minor cohort. The minor is a collaboration between the Shelton Leadership Center and the NC State European Center in Prague, which aims to give students a competitive edge in the global workforce. 

“It was a nine week program, and we went to three different countries,” Jenkins explains. “We went to the Czech Republic and studied in Prague, Germany and studied in Reutlingen and Munich, and in Austria we went to Innsbruck.”

In all these places the students studied business and leadership at local universities, attending classes with the university’s students and immersing themselves in the culture. 

Madi Jenkins standing in front of mountains

“We took classes about leadership and decision making, and how to be aware of your own habits and leadership styles,” Jenkins says. 

The biggest learning experience, according to Jenkins, was putting the interpersonal skills they were learning into action as they collaborated with local students, all the while getting practice at forming connections with other global leaders. 

“We studied with a whole class of German students, and it was really fun because we got to build a personal relationship with them,” Jenkins says. “They were able to show us around their town, and when we went to Munich they even came to visit us.” 

Beyond building relationships with other students, the cohort’s trips were filled with off-campus visits to different companies and businesses where they were able to learn from professionals working in a global market. 

“Because of this experience I’m going to be able to hold myself accountable and be consistent in the working world,” Jenkins says. “It’s given me the skills to be a better advocate for myself.”

Madi Jenkins standing on mountain

For Jenkins, it wasn’t hard to see how the curriculum and lessons they were learning tied back to her studies at the Wilson College. 

“We had a lot of decision making models we learned, which is really helpful for fashion and product development,” Jenkins explains. “Having these classes with a bunch of engineers and seeing how they make decisions, I was able to use that to complement my skills, which are more interpersonal.”

Along with improving her decision making and leadership skills, Jenkins was also exposed to a new world of fashion abroad. 

“I kept a log of all the trends I saw,” she says. “Just different things I noticed in different cultures and how they used fashion to express themselves.” 

From the professional style of her German classmates, to the self-expression before functionality mindset of the French students, Jenkins was able to take inspiration from the people and cultures around her and apply it to her own work. 

Jenkins encourages other Wilson College students to consider the Global Leadership Minor when looking at study abroad programs. 

“I really appreciated this time that I got to be with engineers and accounting students and a bunch of different majors,” she says. “It forced me to get to know other people, and I think it’s going to be so helpful going into a global industry like the fashion industry.”