March 3, 2010
Students gain insight to family and consumer sciences fields, experience culture during annual trip to Chicago
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Students got an inside look at the fashion, design and merchandising world in Chicago during an annual trip to the WIM Family and Consumer Sciences Career Conference, which two Northwest students also helped plan.
Ten students from the University's family and consumer sciences department attended the conference Feb. 11-13. They were accompanied by instructors Sarah Creason and Beth Goudge.
"This trip is a difference maker in the lives, careers and success of each participant we bring," said Creason, a Northwest alumna (bachelors in 2005, masters in 2007) who also attended WIM as a student.
While the annual conference in Chicago dates back to 1945, Missouri students were not invited to the conference until 1980. Northwest students have attended ever since, and they continue to hold WIM leadership roles, Creason said.
The officers are responsible for planning the WIM conference and arranging business tours. This year, Lauren Zeliff, a senior child and family studies major from Maryville, served as treasurer; Melissa Kaplinger, a senior majoring in merchandising of textiles, apparel, and furnishing from Omaha, Neb., served as secretary. For next year's conference, Jackie Pottier, a senior family and consumer sciences education major from Gower, Mo., was elected treasurer; Melissa Robins, a senior child and family studies major from Lathrop, Mo., was elected delegate-at-large.
The entire conference is student-led with guidance from advisors. The object of the conference is for students to explore family and consumer sciences fields, learn about professional opportunities and exchange ideas with students from other colleges. The conference attracts more than 100 students from colleges across the Midwest.
"Our students come back very motivated," Creason said. "It's kind of inspiring to see a city in Chicago that has so many services that we can bring back here. A lot of our students meet with potential employers for internships."
Students heard keynote speaker Doris K. Christopher, who launched Pampered Chef in 1980 based on her food preparation knowledge and a desire to have quality kitchen tools in the everyday kitchen.
"She really motivated the students, emphasizing education, career choices, confidence and a passion for the work you choose," Creason said. "She focused on the importance of time with family and the significant research and meaning of family meal time. These principles led to her success of what started out as a small home business."
Often, the highlight of the conference, Creason said, is the career tours to various Chicago locations that focus on nutrition and dietetics, human services, merchandising and interior design. Students visited Jane Adams Hull House Museum, Rush Hospital, American Girl Doll Place and the International Interior Design Association. Students also visited the studio of Barbara Bates, who designs clothes for celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan.
"I heard her last year when she was our keynote speaker and it was cool to see her in her own studio," said Kassie Kuiper, a senior merchandising major from Independence, Mo. "It was amazing to see her actually working and designing. She pulled out coats that she had just designed and were just finished."
In addition to the educational and networking opportunities, Creason said the cultural experiences students enjoyed were equally invaluable. While staying at the Palmer House Hilton, the students learned the rich history of Chicago businessman Potter Palmer.
"Just taking the 'L' and hailing a taxi, taking a city bus, some of our students haven't experienced that," Creason said. "We've had students who haven't flown on a plane before. So the cultural experience is so rich."
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