New Jersey. New York. New people. New opportunities. My winter break was full of news!

One of the many benefits of receiving a scholarship from the Fashion Scholarship Fund is to go to a fancy dinner in New York – for free! This also gave me an excuse to visit my relatives in New Jersey beforehand. 🙂

Part One:

My cozy room that my aunt made up for me in NJ


Lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe near Times Square, since I’ve never been to one. They make a mean burger!

Outside the Titanic exhibit at the Discovery Times Square Exposition. Very interesting and personal, go if you get a chance.

Me and my cousin Chrissy chillin’ with Oprah no big deal.  Okay, we were at Madame Tussaud’s wax museum

L: Looking up at the spiraling Guggenheim, where we saw Kandinsky’s work in reverse order (decided that starting from the top and working our way down seemed more logical… ) as well as the memorable sculpture “Memory” by Anish Kapoor (who I just realized also made the Bean in Chicago!) and work by other notables like Picasso, Renoir and Pissarro. R: Aunt Olga and Chrissy in the cool modern Wright Restaurant attached to the museum, where we enjoyed a delicious late lunch. I had the parsnip soup and lobster brioche.

Before heading to NY to stay at the Grand Hyatt for the fashion scholarship fund dinner, my Aunt Olga, my great uncle Said and I visited my Aunt Zarema (Auntie Z). Here is my Aunt Zarema, me and Aunt Olga outside of Auntie Z’s house (NJ). It was great to catch up with my relatives on my dad’s side, because we rarely see each other.

Part Two:

Blew a kiss goodbye to my Aunt Olga as the train to NY rolled out. Called my mom. Arrived at Penn Station and took a cab to E 42nd St and Grand Central, where I would be staying at the Grand Hyatt. Talk about an impressive lobby! I walked in to see a fountain and trees and flowers, a mirrored ceiling, a coffee kiosk, nice chairs and tables and couches… it was huge and very pretty. Needless to say I had a goofy smile on my face as I searched for the check-in desk.

The lobby (it was hard to get a good picture… better in person)

our room

I shared a room with my friend Mandy who also goes to Madison and received a scholarship. When we were not wandering around the city together, we enjoyed flipping through the channels of our TV from the comfort of our beds, since we rarely have time to watch TV during school. In the time we had to spare before the event, Mandy and I ventured to Brooklyn to meet up with some her friends, and to the Lower East side to check out the gallery where her cute children caplets are sold. Unfortunately, the gallery was closed, but we had a chance to browse some cool boutiques in the area before barely getting back in time to get ready for the dinner. (There was a police investigation at our subway stop, so we ended up splitting a cab ride back- once we managed to find one!)

The dinner was at Cipriani, conveniently located across the street. It was beautiful, and the food was great. After our rehearsal was cocktail hour, where we enjoyed mingling and meeting with fellow students, professors, and people of the fashion/business world. I  managed to… shake off my nerves by talking to friendly students from other schools, trade business cards with a few people, smile for a few photos, get noticed for my height, admire dresses, sip champagne, and nibble on delicious hors d’oeuvres… all before dinner.

During the dinner there were announcements (the 4 winners of $25,000 out of 8 finalists… I might be there next year, on verra) heart-felt speeches, and awesome live performances from Ernest Felton Baker II (hip hop dancer) and Grace
Weber (singer songwriter).

The menu included:

  • grilled jumbo shrimp & haricot verts (green beans)
  • winter roasted veal chop with brown butter & sage
  • ratatouille alla cirpriani & patate Anna
  • vanilla creme infused meringue cake with fresh strawberies
  • chocolate strawberries, cookies & biscotti, fruit tarts

And copious amounts of red and white wine.

It was delicious.

After it was over, Mandy and I hobbled back to our hotel (our feet hurt from our heels) and took pictures in the lobby, where we ran into fellow students and the “Master of Ceremonies”, Mary Alice Stephenson.

Enfin: Everyone at the dinner was so friendly and encouraging, offering help and advice to all of  us students. It was great to get to know Mandy and Diane (the head of our department) better, catch up with Meg (who won last year and is now at the Fashion Institute of Technology), and meet Dean (our liaison between New York and Madison). And I loved wearing Lara Miller’s dress.

I found that it pays to dream big.


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