One of the best-kept secrets on the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith campus helps university students each week dress for success.
Students in need of professional clothing can visit the Professional Clothes Closet in rooms 107 and 108 in the 51st Annex Building to be outfitted for shirts, jackets, pants, shoes and other professional attire.
Thanks to the closet, hundreds of students across campus have been prepared for job interviews, presentations, and other professional events free of charge. Normally, the students are able to keep the clothes after they use them.
“I had a student the other day who didn’t have any money for professional clothes but wanted to come to one of our networking mixers,” said Ron Orick, director of career services at UAFS and the creator of the closet. “So we helped her out. For those students who need professional clothing and may not be able to afford it, it’s a great benefit and valuable resource.”
The closet came about after Orick attended a career services conference and learned of other schools who had opened clothing closets on their campuses.
“I just thought, ‘we could do that,’” he said.
After asking for donations from the local business community, Orick was “overwhelmed” at the amount of support they received in the form of clothing donations, to the point where they secured a room in the 51st Annex Building to house the clothing. After receiving even more donations, they moved to adjoining rooms in the building to accommodate the need for additional storage.
As Orick assumed additional duties at the university, the closet’s day-to-day duties passed to Jan Martinez, an administrative specialist in the Admissions Office, who was able to combine her passions for clothing and helping students.
“I just love coordinating clothes, and I can generally look at someone and tell their size,” Martinez said, recounting a recent experience where she outfitted a student in five minutes. “It’s just something I like to do.”
While the closet sees a modest amount of traffic currently from students, Martinez said not enough students know of it.
“Not enough come by,” she said. “It needs to be advertised more. We have a great resource on campus that students can get clothes for free that they would otherwise have to pay hundreds of dollars for. These are nice clothes donated by local businessmen and women who have either retired or the clothes don’t fit them anymore. It’s a great resource.”
UAFS alumnus Brandon Anderson, who graduated in 2016 with a degree in business administration, went to the clothing closet his junior year when he needed a suit jacket for a presentation. After being provided with a jacket and a pair of slacks, he was told to keep the clothes.
After the presentation, Anderson wore it to an interview for an internship with Rheem Manufacturing. He secured the internship, which eventually led to a full-time position with the company.
“I always believe that personal appearance is very important. I’m very thankful that somebody donated those clothes and the people at the clothing closet were so helpful in helping me find something that fit me. It’s an awesome service to students.”
The clothing closet will be open from 9-10:30 a.m. and 2-3:30 p.m. Oct. 18 for a “Clothing Closet Drop-in.” Otherwise, students can access the clothing closet by appointment. To make an appointment or find out more information, contact Martinez at 479-788-7144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Small class sizes, dedicated faculty and staff, affordable tuition rates, and a diverse on-campus culture allow UAFS students to fully explore their areas of interest in ways that prepare them for post-graduate success academically, professionally, and personally. To find out what makes UAFS just right for you, visit our website.