Upper level teaching majors can get free career ‘starter’ clothing
MURFREESBORO — Clothing Our Educators Boutique is officially open inside the MTSU College of Education Building, offering upper level teaching students a no-cost wardrobe “starter” for their classroom careers.
Founder and MTSU alumna June Adams recently held the grand opening inside the College of Education Building (COE) Room 203 to help “residency students,” who are upper level students immediately preparing for or are already student teaching in the classroom.
A few dozen students stopped by on opening day, Adams said, including a young male student who walked away with two blazers and a pair of slacks, and a female student who received two blouses and a blazer for a scheduled interview the next day.
“That’s what this is all about,” said Adams, who noticed the need in her role as the adviser for new transfer students and graduate analyst in the College of Education. “This is for (a student) to come and know that it cost absolutely nothing but your time. … We want this to be a good starter for students.”
The boutique is located in a small room just off the office suite of College of Education Dean Lana Seivers and features neatly arranged racks of women’s and men’s clothing. A glass display case contains various accessories.
To use the boutique, students must fill out a short application to document what they receive. Students can access the boutique by appointment by contacting Adams in COE Room 307, by phone 615-898-5153 or by email June.Adams@mtsu.edu.
Adams was inspired by the Raiders Closet, a free clothing resource founded by Jones College of Business management professor Virginia Hemby-Grubb three years ago. Raiders Closet provides students across campus with quality business attire for job interviews, internships and other professional needs.
Emily Tinch, a graduate student in curriculum instruction from Jamestown, Tennessee, dropped by the boutique with assistant professor Jane Lim to support Adams’ March 17 grand opening.
While Tinch, who is scheduled to graduate in August, has been working for county government for a few years and doesn’t need a resource like the boutique, she’s encountered graduate and undergraduate students who weren’t as fortunate.
“I think it’s a great resource,” she said. “I know I’ve had some classmates who may not have had access to professional dress. … I think it’s great for them to have somewhere to go and get those things to wear as they’re going into schools and presenting themselves as professionals.”
Also attending the grand opening was Murfreesboro’s Earle Gresham, a friend of Adams who helped her set up and stock the boutique. Adams worked in retail clothing and merchandising for a number of years and was store manager for Gresham’s Fine Men’s Clothing, which Gresham owned. She credits his mentorship with helping bring the boutique to a reality.
“We always talked about dressing for the door you want to go through. This is an important step for a lot of students to prepare themselves for the work world,” Gresham said.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to dress like you really want to because of the price of things, and there are a lot of people who throw away garments unnecessarily that can be used, just because they’ve worn it too many times. I think it will be very beneficial to the students. I just hope and pray they take advantage of it.”
To help keep the boutique stocked with quality clothing, Camille Arkenberg, co-owner of Camille’s Department Store Outlet off West Northfield Boulevard in Murfreesboro, has agreed to donate periodically. Arkenberg’s store carries name-brand women’s clothing at discount pricing and has to clear inventory because of seasonal changes or overstock in some items.
“We try to pick out some professional clothing that would work for their needs and send them over to her and help fill the gaps,” Arkenberg said.
Arkenberg said she and her husband are really involved with the parent-teacher organization at their children’s school, Mitchell-Neilson, and she recognizes that it can be challenging for college students to afford professional clothing just starting out.
“This is just another way to support that profession,” she said. “It makes me feel really good to be a part of something like this.”
Donations can be dropped off at Adams’ office, COE Room 307, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday–Friday. For after hours or weekend donations, contact Adams at 615-898-5153 or email June.Adams@mtsu.edu.