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Reading Area Community College students get help dressing for success

Jonathon Alexander Nava-Pensado wasn’t really sure where to start.

Standing in the menswear section of Boscov’s East in Exeter Township, his eyes scanned the racks in front of him.

Should he check out the dress shirts? Or maybe the pants? What about a suit jacket?

The 21-year-old from Reading admitted he lacked the experience to be certain. After all, his professional attire to that point consisted of just one white, button-up shirt and a pair of black pants designed to be worn by a chef.

“That’s about my fanciest outfit,” he said.

RACC student Jonathan Alexander Nava-Pensado admires the look on a mannequin as he builds a professional wardrobe during a shopping spree at Boscov's East. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE) (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
RACC student Jonathan Alexander Nava-Pensado admires the look on a mannequin as he builds a professional wardrobe during a shopping spree at Boscov’s East. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE) (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

With his graduation from Reading Area Community College just weeks away, however, he needed a bit of an upgrade. The communications major with an eye on the international business world — he’s also a burgeoning filmmaker — needed to expand his wardrobe.

After pondering for a few moments, Nava-Pensado decided his first move should be to acquire a black suit jacket, one with a slim fit that would look good on red carpets or at movie premiers.

“I like that look,” he said. “A black shirt and a black jacket, the full black outfit. I like to blend in and look as low-key as possible.”

Nava-Pensado quickly found a few options that might work. And, thanks to a partnership between RACC, Truist Bank and Boscov’s, purchasing one was well within reach.

He was one of 100 soon-to-be-graduating RACC students who were invited to the store last week and given $250 — funded by a $25,000 grant from Truist — to spend on professional clothing for their impending careers.

Katie Shields, division merchandise manager at Boscov's, talks to RACC students about how to build a professional wardrobe. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Katie Shields, division merchandise manager at Boscov’s, talks to RACC students about how to build a professional wardrobe. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The idea for the event, which is in its third year, was hatched during a conversation over coffee between RACC’s Anthony DeMarco and Truist’s David Roland.

The pair were discussing Truist’s plans to provide a $15,000 grant to RACC.

“We started talking about how to best utilize it,” said DeMarco, vice president for college advancement.

Wanting to make sure students were as prepared as possible to enter the workforce, they came up with the idea of helping them dress for success.

“Going into a job interview or starting a new job, the last thing you want to think about is, “Am I dressed appropriately?’” said Roland, senior vice president for Truist.

DeMarco contacted Boscov’s, a local company that has long been a supporter of RACC, and the retailer jumped at the chance to join the effort.

During its first two years, about 50 students per year took part. This year, thanks to Truist upping its grant to $25,000, about 100 took part.

Along with the money from Truist, the students benefited from a 10% discount provided by Boscov’s.

DeMarco said he feels the event can be lifechanging for many of the students who take part.

“For many of our students, this is the first opportunity they’ll have to buy new clothes,” he said. “Something like this can be the keys to their future.”

But the event wasn’t just about shopping. Student were given the opportunity to hear from two experts from Boscov’s about how to pick out appropriate work clothes and how to build a professional wardrobe.

Jacob Stein, executive vice president of operations at Boscov's, gives advice to RACC students on building a professional wardrobe. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Jacob Stein, executive vice president of operations at Boscov’s, gives advice to RACC students on building a professional wardrobe. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

They were also treated to sessions from experts at Truist about financial literacy, budgeting, establishing credit and other financial topics.

“They’re things that, coming out of college, you really need to know,” DeMarco said.

RACC President Dr. Susan Looney called the event special, saying it can make a big difference for students preparing to graduate.

“This is one of the highlights of each April for us,” she said.

And, she said, it wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Truist and Boscov’s.

“We’re so thankful to them for their continued support,” she said.

Boscov's CEO Jim Boscov and RACC President Dr. Susan Looney watch as RACC students are given advice on dressing for job interviews. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Jim Boscov, CEO of Boscov’s, and Dr. Susan Looney, RACC president, watch as RACC students are given advice on dressing for job interviews. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)


Source: Berkshire mont

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