“I had no idea that coming to Brookdale would impact my life the way it did,” said Sheridan O’Hea, Alumna 2018, from Matawan, NJ.  “Flashback to 2016 as a senior in high school I was extremely overwhelmed by the thought of college. I did not know how I could possibly make such a big decision when I wasn’t sure about where I wanted to go or who I wanted to be.

I applied to so many schools at random while selecting majors that I was only somewhat interested. Eventually I made plans to move away from New Jersey and attend an out of state school with a major in psychology. Plot twist… I never attended. Instead, I took a semester off and used that time to consider my options. Ultimately, I realized that Brookdale is where I needed to be at that moment.

During the time of enrollment, I did not plan to pick a major right away. I figured being Undecided would be my safest option until I saw that they offered a Fashion Merchandising and Design Major! Seeing this brought me back to my 8-year-old self who was always drawing in my fashion notebook and mending the holes in my siblings’ clothing. I trusted my intuition and enrolled as a fashion student. Looking back on that moment, it turns out that was the best decision I could have made.

I was so impressed by the variety of classes that were offered to Fashion Majors. As someone who was not exactly sure of what they wanted to do regarding the fashion industry, I had the opportunity to learn about visual merchandising, illustration, marketing, sewing, and much more.

Not only was the curriculum fantastic, but my instructors were incredibly knowledgeable about the industry from their own personal experiences. They did the best they could to set their students up for success, including taking us on trips to New York to visit museums and fashion schools, providing us with internship opportunities, setting up Q&A sessions with fashion designers and production assistants, and showcasing our work in fashion shows.

However, my favorite experience was studying abroad in London with an itinerary that was jam-packed with unbelievable excursions. I still cannot believe that I was able to see Princess Diana’s dresses up close.

I was really thriving as a Brookdale student. I began developing my own personal projects that would overall improve the skills I needed to become a fashion designer. My first successful design was a dress I made for the 4th of July which had a strapless red and white striped top and a firework printed pleated skirt. At the time I was so proud of this dress, but it is always funny to look back on my early creations to see the amateur mistakes I was making.

During summer breaks I wanted to design and sew as much as possible. I had a Disney vacation planned and thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to make an outfit for. Instead of making one outfit for myself, I made matching outfits for everyone on the trip.

We caught a lot of attention walking through the parks in our ensembles and the social media posts caught even more attention. Before I knew it, I went viral on Reddit and blogs including PopSugar and Disney Babble were publishing articles about me. As an aspiring fashion designer, this moment of publicity gave me the reassurance that I needed. I told myself that this was only the beginning.

As my time at Brookdale was coming to an end, I was feeling anxious. Not only did my time there go by so fast, but I had to face another college decision process yet again. Despite my emotions, I knew that I was more than prepared to move on. Within those 2 years I had accomplished so much that I could add to my resume and portfolio to take with me on my next journey.

By December 2018, I finished my program, packed my bags and my sewing machine, and moved to California to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Spring of 2019.

At FIDM I found who I wanted to be as a fashion designer. I spent an entire term making an original dress for The American Heart Association’s- Go Red for Women Collection. This was a program that only a handful of students were selected for.

My time spent in California was all fashion all the time, and I loved it.

I graduated from FIDM with my Bachelor’s Degree in July of 2020. This was probably the worst year to graduate since finding a job was nearly impossible. I knew that my time would come, but in the meantime, I still needed to continue building my portfolio and to not let go of my dream.

Fortunately, many opportunities have come my way since then. The most exciting experiences I have had include contract sewing for Urban Outfitters and launching my own collection with SHEIN which is out now!

Also, I have found my way back to Brookdale as a Fashion Illustration instructor. I love being able to share my knowledge and recent experiences with my students. Words cannot describe how thrilling it is to be a part of their fashion journey. I hope I can inspire them as much as my instructors have inspired me.

5 Years ago, I made the decision to go to Brookdale, the rest is history.” #SoulsOfBrookdale

For more on Fashion Design and Merchandising, please visit brookdalecc.edu/fashion.