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Fashion Student Scholarship Named for Runway Founder

Posted: May 29, 2013

As coordinator of the fashion and textile technology program, Elaine Polvinen (pictured far left) launched Runway in 2008. The event would eventually grow into a much-anticipated annual spring production. For its first year, Runway primarily featured retail items from Elmwood Avenue stores, local designers, and a handful of apparel design students.

With Runway 2.0, Polvinen aimed not only to include more original student designs but also to develop a funding stream that would make the event self-supporting and a vehicle for building student scholarships.

Flash-forward to Runway 6.0, held on April 27 in the Campbell Student Union. This was the night Polvinen saw her vision come to fruition. At the end of the show, which featured the work of 21 student designers, Polvinen was handed a bouquet of roses and the news that a $25,000 endowed scholarship has been established in her name. Proceeds from Runway shows over the last five years enabled the department to establish the scholarship fund.

“She always told me her vision was to start an endowed scholarship for the students," said Lynn Boorady (pictured right), chair and associate professor of fashion and textile technology, who worked with the Institutional Advancement Office to secure the endowment. “She felt strongly that it should not be a small scholarship because she wanted it to make a real difference. This (endowment) should be able to fund a $1,000 scholarship every year for a fashion and textile technology student.”

Polvinen noted that there are not many scholarships available specifically for fashion students.

“Today’s students have financial pressures coming from all directions,” she said. “A big part of their financial burden is tuition, books, and now technology, as well as construction materials for an apparel design or product development student.”

When she received the news of the scholarship fund, Polvinen was surrounded by several family members.

“I was totally overwhelmed and surprised," Polvinen said. "Tears streamed down my face because I was surrounded by those I love as well as what I love. This will offer wonderful scholarships for students, but I would like there to be many more like it to help students with the high cost of getting an education.”

Photo: Erica Morano, buffalo.com

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