Erin Sturgeon | SS21

Fashion Design and Merchandising: Learning through creating

On a sunny Tuesday morning, Sunaina Adhikari sits at a sewing machine with an almost-finished pair of shorts in front of her. Just a week ago, this pair of shorts was nothing but a pile of brightly colored fabric. However, with the help of the Miami Summer Scholars Fashion Design and Merchandising class and Professor Gylaine Gilmore, the novice sewer is one step closer to completing her apparel.

Miami Summer Scholars student Sunaina Adhikari overlocks the pockets of her shorts. — Photo by Erin Sturgeon

The class sits in an open concept room, each one of the six students disperse out to their individual sewing machine. Each student uses their creative freedom to choose a unique fabric design that will soon become a pair of elastic waisted shorts. Adhikari walked into the Fashion Design and Merchandising class with no sewing experience, and over a short yet productive week, she has learned how to measure and cut fabric, operate a sewing machine, and create clothing from scratch. Adhikari described the class as “a great learning environment for beginner students.” Her new skill set includes setting up her sewing machine, rethreading a bobbin, using an overlock machine to secure her short’s seams, and overall learning how to create a piece of high quality clothing. This skill set is made possible by the class’s professor, who provides her students with valuable hands-on experience throughout the class.

The instructor of the class, Professor Gilmore, has done an excellent job creating a learning environment for beginner students to explore their interests in fashion design and merchandising. Her past career as a manager in both “retail management and the distribution industry” has prepared Gilmore to teach eager students about the world of fashion. She works to create an open and learning environment in attempts to “introduce (her students to) the fashion industry.” This goal allows Gilmore to educate while allowing her students independence and a chance to teach themselves and problem solve. She often uplifts her students, while still providing them with helpful and constructive criticism in order to improve the student’s project. Overall, Gilmore has successfully created a welcoming, helpful, and positive learning experience for beginner fashion students to gain “the fundamentals of how to use a sewing machine.”

John DeCrosta: CEO of baseball

John DeCrosta teaches Jayla Ross how to correctly hold a baseball bat. — Photo by Erin Sturgeon

Rising junior John DeCrosta may seem like an average teenager at first glance. However, the 17-year-old has a secret strength:  an affinity for business. DeCrosta uses his business, Baseball Basics, to teach young baseball players “the fundamentals of the game.” 

The young entrepreneur originally began his business adventure as a baker. “There were these two girls who would sell bread for $8. I thought to myself, ‘I can run them out of the market with a cheaper and better product.’ ” 

DeCrosta became dedicated to his business by waking up each morning, creating personalized sandwiches, and selling them to his classmates. “I was half their price and I provided a better service.” 

His successful business at a young age allowed DeCrosta to gain a unique understanding of the ins and outs of a self-run business. DeCrosta’s small idea quickly spiraled into his newest, “impromptu,” business venture. 

“A couple weeks after the shutdown…I would see the young kids (playing baseball) with their parents, getting bad advice…I wanted to create my own private instructional business.”

Thus, he launched Baseball Basics in April of 2020, using word of mouth to find customers.

DeCrosta not only coaches kids privately, but has also been able to coach their Little League teams and travel teams as a volunteer coach. “It’s been a really fulfilling experience to work for myself and then also help others.” 

With any emerging business, change is inevitable, with the need to“always evolve to what the client wants.” He gives one pivotal example.  “At first I was a cash- only business, but then once people didn’t want to do cash-only exchanges because of COVID concerns, I went over to electronic payment.” 

He elaborates.  “I had to set up a checking account and then I had to set up Apple pay and now I am actually going to set up a Paypal and Venmo just so I can accept multiple forms since clients have mentioned that they would prefer to use over-the-phone payments.” 

To any young entrepreneur who is debating beginning a new business venture, John DeCrosta’s advice to you is straightforward: “Do it. There’s not much to lose and a hell of a lot to gain.”

Five questions with Matt Crum

Matt Crum manages the Williams TV studio. — Photo by Erin Sturgeon

Matt Crum joined Miami University at the beginning of 2020 as the Department of Media, Journalism & Film’s productions and technology manager. After providing Media Matters Summer Scholars a tour of the television studio in Williams Hall, he shared an overview about his interest in video production, his experience at Miami and his future career plans.

Question: What drew you to video production?

Answer: I always had cameras around the house when I was young. I also traveled a lot.

Q: Why did you decide to come to Miami University?

A: The size of the program and the amount of the program is pretty media attention. My past jobs for the most part have been in media but they have not been in an academic program. I have a (taught media before) at the University of Kentucky branch, however, that was years ago.

Q: What do you do as the productions and technology manager?

A: I manage all the television, audio and editing suites and facilities in the building. I also manage a lot of our editing and video equipment as well as the audio equipment.

Q: Do you currently teach any classes at Miami University?

A: Not right now, however, I just started this job in January. Eventually, I will begin teaching advanced studio production. Recently, I assisted the Film Productions Capstone class and taught the audio crew how to do audio recordings.

Q: What can students do once learning how to use the equipment you teach them?

A: I try to make sure that everything the students would learn in my classes has a practical application. I make sure that projects my students do for me in my class can relate to projects they may do for a client or a job they may have. This is similar to how I learned; I had good professors and good co-ops. The university I went to had a required four-hour co-op in their TV studio that they ran on campus. I also had a co-op that became a job at a local production company. This is how I got my start, even though it was originally a co-op that became a job. This, combined with other co-ops I did, is similar to what I will be teaching my students soon.

Medicine mayhem

Since the creation of the Miami University Summer Scholars program in 2014, Summer Scholar students have been asked to leave their medications with the staff upon arrival. 

This year, however, some scholars expressed confusion on whether this policy applied to both prescription and non-prescription medicine. 

“Initially, the policy was a little unclear. (From) one person you would hear to turn in everything, but from another you would hear to only turn in prescriptions,” said Summer Scholar student Michael Dejournett.

When he arrived, Dejournett only turned his prescription medicine over to counselors, holding on to his non-prescription medications. 

“(The medicine policy) was not talked about much..and then all of a sudden there was a huge emphasis on it.” 

“I talked to one of the counselors, and they explained that they just figured it out,” says Dejournett, explaining the source of confusion.

But Jane Lee, senior associate director of admissions at Miami,  said the policy has never changed. 

“(The policy) is not a change. At the time of check-in, students were asked if they had any medication to turn in, and I think at that point, the communication was interpreted as prescription, when in actuality, medication is medication,” Lee said.

Lee emphasized the “Minors on Campus” policy, which states that “Staff shall keep the medicine in a secure location, and at the appropriate time for distribution shall meet with the participant.”

Nonetheless, some scholars this summer voiced their confusion and disagreement with the policy. Most students assumed they were safe to handle their own over-the-counter medications, which mostly consisted of ibuprofen, melatonin or antacids. But as the program progressed, so did stricter adherence to medication rules. 

About three days into the program, counselors announced that all medications must be turned in within a four-hour window of time, with failure to do so resulting in dismissal from the program. Students scurried to collect all medications and form a line to turn it in. r “It just all happened at once. All of a sudden you have this huge line of people turning in medications because they were all told at the last second to do so,” Dejournett said.

In the end however, students did comply with the rules. “It’s all in the name of safety,” Lee said.

Media matters — and friendship matters

Walking into my first class at Miami Summer Scholars, I would have never dreamed that all the amazing experiences that I have had over the past two weeks would have happened. I have gained so much in both professional journalism skills as well as personal friendships. 

Media Matters students visit Cincinnati City Hall with Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Sharon Coolidge. — Contributed photo

With the help of Professor Patricia Gallagher Newberry, I have been able to explore every form of journalism imaginable. From a breaking news reporter working for the Washington Post to an author for the Cosmopolitan magazine, Newberry allowed the class to experience journalism firsthand. Our ability to interview professional and successful journalists, most who graduated from Miami University, was an amazing and one-of-a-kind experience. I never would have thought I was interested in being a news anchor, until WCPO-TV’s Kristyn Hartman showed us her station’s newsroom and further explained her job requirements to our class. 

I have always dreamt of studying and becoming a journalist. The opportunity to travel and report on the world up close had always been my biggest dream. My past experiences with journalism have been through my school, where I work for the yearbook staff. Although this opportunity allows me to learn about journalism, it may never compare to the resources Miami has to offer and the unique experience I have had during Summer Scholars. 

This amazing experience I had would never have been possible without the relationships I have made with my classmates. Each one of them inspires me to work hard, take chances, and pursue my dreams. My experience would not be a fraction as amazing as it is without the lifetime friendships I have made in and out of the classroom.

About the author

Erin Sturgeon is a 17-year-old rising senior at Notre Dame Academy in Toledo, Ohio. In school, she takes honors, AP and IB classes. She enjoys her IB Literature, IB biology, and journalism class, and has recently become a member of her school’s yearbook staff.

Outside of the classroom, Sturgeon focuses on running, playing tennis and reading. As a member of her school’s varsity tennis team, she dedicates five days a week to improving her tennis skills.

Sturgeon’s favorite books include “Pride and Prejudice” and “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Sturgeon plans to pursue her dreams of a career in writing by studying journalism and communication.