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Introducing the 2027 Class of Textile Pioneer Scholars

With support from generous donors, three exceptional students — who all hail from non-metropolitan areas of North Carolina — have been named recipients of the Textile Pioneer Scholarship.

Photo of the Wilson College of Textiles building

The term “scholar” is typically defined as an accomplished academic individual.

However, at the Wilson College of Textiles, this definition takes on a richer meaning for those who have been named Textile Pioneer Scholars. 

Established in 2018, the Textile Pioneer Scholarship Program provides financial support to exceptional students from non-metropolitan areas of North Carolina, many of whom are first-generation college attendees, who have a strong interest in the textile industry. Serving as the inaugural need-based scholarship for the Wilson College, the Textile Pioneer Scholarship Program not only aligns with NC State’s land-grant mission; it also contributes to diversifying the college’s student body.

Textile Pioneer Scholars receive a minimum of $14,000 each year for a span of four years along with $4,000 in enrichment funds, which can be used for studying abroad and participation in leadership activities. 

This scholarship program is made possible through generous donations to the North Carolina Textile Foundation (NCTF), which serves as the philanthropic arm of the Wilson College of Textiles. 

“The North Carolina Textile Foundation works to foster lifelong relationships with alumni and supporters while also inspiring philanthropic investment in our college,” says Michael Ward, the executive director of the NCTF. “Donor support has empowered our college to always focus on the success of our talented textiles students, which is highlighted through the remarkable achievements of our Textile Pioneer Scholars.” 

Below, get to know this year’s scholars and learn how this scholarship opportunity will shape their experiences at NC State University and beyond.

Meet the 2027 Class of Textile Pioneer Scholars

Now, it’s time to meet the 2027 class of Textile Pioneer Scholars and learn more about their plans for NC State and beyond. 

Click on the links below to be introduced to each student.

Alexis De Castro

Chandler Textile Pioneer Scholarship
Hometown: Thomasville, North Carolina
Major: B.S. Fashion and Textile Management, Fashion Development and Product Management Concentration

Alexis De Castro’s connection to the Wilson College of Textiles began with a spark of curiosity. Attending the college’s Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP) only further ignited that interest. As a Textile Pioneer Scholar, De Castro looks forward to embarking on her academic journey without the undue burden of financial stress. Beyond the class, she looks forward to connecting with her fellow students as well as alumni, staff and faculty.

“Every person I ran into had something great to say about their work and was always open to sharing their knowledge and giving advice to anyone who needed it,” she reflects. “Within just a few interactions, I already knew that as a student of the Wilson College of Textiles, I was going to be surrounded by people who cared about me, people who strive toward helping me achieve my personal and professional goals and are willing to help and support me along the way.”

Why did you choose your major? What are you most excited to learn about?

I have chosen to pursue a degree in fashion and textile management (FTM) with a concentration in fashion management and product development to feed my hunger for creativity and fulfill my passion for the fashion industry! Being a part of the FTM program perfectly satisfies my love for business and organization as well as my passion for the arts and expression. I am extremely excited to learn more about how designs and concepts in the fashion industry become tangible products, as well as learn all the processes that go into making an idea come to life.

How will being a Textile Pioneer Scholar impact your college experience?

With my scholarship, I am excited to study what I’m passionate about without having to worry about paying for college. Furthermore, I can’t wait to be a part of a group of scholars and to be connected to a network of scholar alumni who I know will always be willing to help me with all of my career endeavors.

If you could say anything to the individuals who made your scholarship possible, what would you say to thank them for their generosity?

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been given to pursue my passions through education at a reduced cost. Being granted this scholarship has really helped with easing my family’s nerves about being able to pay for college. I am eternally grateful for the faith that has been put into me by funding my education, and, again, I thank you for investing in my personal and academic development at NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles.

Gabriella Sequenzia

Matthew B. Griffith Textile Pioneer Scholarship
Hometown: Waynesville, North Carolina
Major: B.S. Fashion and Textile Management, Brand Management and Marketing Concentration

From her earliest years, Gabriella Sequenzia’s love for fashion has shone bright. Throughout the years, her passion has grown and evolved into a keen interest in color theory, fabrics and trends. Fashion has always been more than clothing for Sequenzia; it’s the language of self-expression and creativity. During her time at the Wilson College of Textiles, she aims to dive deeper into her chosen path of fashion and textile management with a concentration in brand management and marketing.

“With a desire to confirm a future college path, I completed career testing with a coach,” she explains. “While I love fashion, I am not a designer. But marketing fashion? I knew I had found my career. I imagine seeing my favorite brands succeeding, choosing which clothes to sell, promoting a line or becoming a buyer. I imagine seeing a young person’s face light up when they see a new piece I picked out from their favorite brand.” 

Why did you decide to enroll at the Wilson College of Textiles?

Over the last year, during many Wilson College events and tours, I have had the pleasure of talking with Dean David Hinks, faculty, staff, students and board members for the North Carolina Textile Foundation. Their energy, passion and excitement for the opportunities and future of textiles greatly inspired me. The focus on sustainability and research for the industry as a whole gave me a glimpse of how I can positively impact the future of the textile industry. 

Also, the connections that the Wilson College of Textiles can help me make are unlike any other. When choosing my academic institution, a huge support system going into college was fundamental to me. After seeing the tight-knit bonds between the students and faculty and learning about the college’s connection with alumni, organizations and brands, I knew I would join a family.

What kinds of activities did you do in high school that were most impactful for you?

Dance and theater are two of my passions. For the past seven years, I have studied six different styles of dance, ranging from pointe to hip hop, and I’ve performed in ten musical theater productions along with competitions in ensemble. Through my involvement with the arts, I have expanded my skills for collaboration and perseverance, which will assist me throughout my time at NC State. I have served in leadership roles in both my dance studio as a volunteer assistant teacher and at my high school as a Pack Leader, an administration-selected role to mentor and guide the incoming first-year class, organize school-wide events and assist in student marketing.

If you could say anything to the individuals who made your scholarship possible, what would you say to thank them for their generosity?

I am beyond grateful to receive a Textile Pioneer Scholarship. This scholarship is such a blessing to me, my family and my future in the fashion and textile industry. Because of my scholarship, I will be able to thrive in my future career due to minimal student loan debt. Thank you so much for your generosity!

Bailey Walters

Goodnight Scholarship / Textile Pioneer Scholarship
Hometown: Farmville, North Carolina
Major: B.S. Polymer and Color Chemistry

While researching NC State’s academic programs during the college application process, Bailey Walters was immediately drawn to the Wilson College of Textiles. She aims to work in the healthcare industry after graduation, and her major of polymer and color chemistry will apply directly to her medical aspirations. She chose to enroll at the Wilson College, specifically, because it felt like a second home.

“From the very beginning, I have felt a sense of welcome and care from the faculty, even when I was still a prospective student,” she says. “The college provides small class sizes where professors truly care about their students, internships, undergraduate research, scholarships and many other opportunities for their students I couldn’t find anywhere else. Compared to all my other options, the Wilson College of Textiles blew the others out of the water and was an easy choice for me.”

Why did you choose your major? What are you most excited to learn about? 

Polymer and color chemistry classes are very small, so I will be able to connect with my classmates and professors and take advantage of every learning opportunity possible. While I have a general understanding of the degree and what I will be learning, there are so many topics I will discover in class, almost like a treasure hunt. As I move along, I will continuously be surprised by what I am learning and expand my knowledge extensively. Plus, who wouldn’t want to get to learn about all the colors?

What are you interested in becoming involved in through NC State or the Wilson College and why?

I am very proud to be a student at NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles, so I would love to serve as a student ambassador for the college and university. I am also interested in undergraduate research. I am hoping to participate in medical research with the faculty in the Wilson College of Textiles and the Comparative Medicine Institute. This will help me jumpstart my career in the medical field with a very unique experience, and I can create connections with others who have similar career interests to mine.

If you could say anything to the individuals who made your scholarship possible, what would you say to thank them for their generosity?

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to expand my horizons and find out who I am. Growing up in a small town, I was limited in the opportunities I had to make myself stand out and had to work twice as hard to put myself out there. Now, I am a student in a school in a city with endless professional and educational opportunities. I’m ready to meet new people, build lasting relationships and friendships, and make a name for myself.

Support the next generation of textile leaders

Make a gift to support the Textile Pioneer Student Enrichment Fund today.