Berkeley Today

Berkeley College Fashion Student finds Inspiration in the Online Classroom

Gabrielle Sullivan had a choice of colleges as she prepared to return to the classroom to complete her Bachelor’s degree. She chose Berkeley College because of the business-oriented emphasis on the fashion program. She enrolled in the online program because it allowed her to balance college, a full-time job, and caring for her 3-year-old daughter.

The Berkeley College Online® program was a good choice and has impacted Ms. Sullivan’s life in more ways than one.

Fashion Course Opens Student’s Eyes to New and Exciting Area of Industry

A Visual Merchandising course – taken during her first semester – affirmed Ms. Sullivan’s decision to re-enter the fashion industry. She formerly worked as an Assistant Buyer at Body Shop of America (now Body Central).

"Taking that merchandising class really helped me see things from the buyer’s point of view. I realized for the first time that the pieces you choose and the way that you merchandize those pieces really affect the bottom line," Ms. Sullivan said. "When I enrolled at Berkeley, I wasn’t completely sure if I would stay in the fashion industry. Now, I have a whole new perspective and I realize that there are so many exciting career possibilities out there."

Inspiration Extends Beyond the Classroom

Ms. Sullivan was so inspired by the teaching methods of her Life Science online instructor Laura Harste, PhD, that she incorporated a similar style in her own classroom at Father’s H.a.r.b.o.r. Academy in Jacksonville, FL, where she teaches an Introduction to Fashion course to elementary and high school students.

"Seeing the way Dr. Harste cared and tried to help students was a huge motivating factor for me," Ms. Sullivan said.

That motivation extended beyond her classroom. Earlier this year when Ms. Sullivan learned that prom dresses were out of reach for some of her graduating students, she jumped into action. She wrote to Oprah Winfrey asking for help through Harpo Hook-ups – a wish-granting segment of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Eight weeks later, actress and fashion designer Jessica Simpson showed up at the school with dresses and accessories for Ms. Sullivan’s students. The students and Ms. Sullivan appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and the Dove Corporation granted a one-time $10,000 Gabrielle Sullivan scholarship to help students in need at the Jacksonville academy.

To see a clip of Ms. Sullivan and her students on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" go to http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Jessica-Simpsons-Prom-Makeover-Video