McNeese State University is holding its inaugural career clothing drive from 8 a.m. – noon Saturday, May 21, in the Noland Alumni Pavilion. This event is in support of the Cowboy Closet, a new resource to help McNeese students have expanded access to career-ready clothing.
“The idea came from special projects coordinator with the office of business affairs, Tammie Mayo, as well as the Burton College of Education as a way to help remove barriers that many students experience when they are pursuing professional opportunities,” says Andrea Burton, director of McNeese’s Career and Professional Development Services.
“Unfortunately, many students don’t have access to the funds to buy a new suit or other professional apparel for an interview, or they need sometimes up to a year’s worth of professional clothing for an internship or residency, and that’s financially out of reach for them. We have been working together closely to try and ensure that this need won’t be a barrier to student success.”
The Cowboy Closet aims to help students through a collection of gently used professional clothing, shoes and accessories housed in the Burton Business Center. Once the Closet is stocked, students will be able to make an appointment once per semester and have a consultation with staff members to evaluate their needs. Then, they will be able to select five items from the closet to keep, and possibly more, depending on available stock or a student’s exceptional need.
“We often overlook how important professional dress is, especially in the age of work from home and Zoom meetings, but the right clothing can really give you the confidence to shine in those interviews,” Burton says. “What we want to do is give students the opportunity to really be able to be confident in themselves and how they present themselves.”
The Cowboy Closet has received support from the McNeese Foundation, the Women’s Business Network with the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance and the McNeese Student Government Association, the latter which funded the purchase of shelving and other fixtures. Now, the Closet is calling on the Lake Area community for donations to fill those shelves with needed items: men’s and women’s suits, button-down shirts, blouses, dresses, slacks, shoes, belts, ties, scrubs, outerwear, McNeese polo shirts and coat hangers.
“We’re really excited to have so much support from so many community members,” she says.
The Closet is also accepting monetary donations and will have volunteering opportunities available for community members who would like to get involved. For more information about donating to the Cowboy Closet, contact Burton at firstname.lastname@example.org.