By: Christopher C. Saah
As most college students where sleeping in or walking to 8 AM classes, UT’s very own Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Organization (CEO) was doing the catwalk. Periodically, Oak Ridge High School puts on a business professionals course. During this course, students are encouraged to learn more about what it means to be a business professional and help them prepare for the real world outside of school. CEO has had plenty of experience with that; having traveled to multiple conferences in Chicago, been in countless meetings with entrepreneurs, and organized and participated in multiple pitch competitions, these college students understand what it means to be a professional in today’s changing world. Given one month to prepare, CEO was tasked with helping these high school students learn more about dressing professionally. Emily Bright, a sophomore at UT and the communication chair for CEO had a very bright idea. “Why don’t we have a fashion show?” Emily was quoted as saying. The rest of the group was hesitant at first, but with Emily’s prior experience in the fashion industry, they felt confident that she could pull it off.
As the students filed into the 200-person auditorium, the lights dimmed and the moderating CEO members took to the front. What started as a very formal slideshow presentation slowly turned less prescribed. Mitchell Poythress, a senior studying business management and entrepreneurship, had this to say about the matter. “As the slides droned on, we could all tell we were losing them. I remembered back when I was in high school, and I always hated boring talks. We had to get them this information, without boring them to tears.” With that came jokes from the CEO executive board and a far less official presentation.
Once the slides were completed, the real fun began. The lights dimmed, and the high-energy pop music started pumping through the auditoriums speakers. The student’s heads started to bob, and the fashion show was beginning. First came Jeremy Tate, the organization’s president dressed in prototypical business casual attire from the back of the room. The students watched and listened as the remaining CEO members dissected his clothes and accessories and relating what he was doing well. As more of the “models” came down to the front of the room, the students had the chance to learn more about business professional dress for men and women, business casual, and formal dress. If what came before was the “do’s,” then what followed was most definitely the “don’ts.” Eric Rutledge, a sophomore computer science major at the university, usually the most dapper of the group, strutted down to the front of the room in what was best described as “hooligan attire.” Eric had is wrinkled button down shirt not tucked in to his not pressed black pants, adorning his sloppy flip flops, and a bright orange boa across his neck to top it all off. After the moderators reeled the students back in from laughter, they broke down everything he had done wrong and why he would not be impressing anyone in the professional world. Although exaggerated, the students understood how important it is to dress well and present themselves in a good light. After the students asked multiple questions, the Oak Ridge High School bell rang three times, and the students started to pack up their things. “Although I do not see my modeling career taking off any time soon,” Jeremy Tate jested, “I honestly believe that we helped those kids.” It was clear that they had, and that the Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Organization Fashion Show was a true success.