Advice from a Two-time Scholarship Winner: Just Go for It!

Kayla Garb ’20SB Challenges Stereotypes

Kayla Garb, a junior honors student at the Sy Syms School of Business and a Lubavitch Chasid, comes by her passion for fashion honestly.

“My grandmother has worked for years at Esti’s The Boutique, a high-fashion clothing store in Flatbush. Because I grew up with such a love of fashion, I decided to just go for it,” said Garb.

She admits that it’s kind of crazy how she won her first scholarship from the prestigious YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) in January 2018. For Garb, it started as a whim and then proceeded to a mad scramble to complete a challenging scholarship application at the end of 2017. She had four weeks to get it done. Having only two weeks of business classes under her belt, Garb, a marketing major with a lifelong interest in “fashion as art,” gave the scholarship her best shot. Her winning case study focused on how digital technology could be applied to a traditional retail model. Garb chose J. Crew.

The result: “A $5,000 award that I didn’t expect to win,” said Garb.

Fast forward to the spring of 2018. This time around, the high-spirited marketing major, relying on the guidance of Al Golzari, an adjunct professor of marketing at Sy Syms, was ready to solve a different kind of challenge: how to globalize a retailer, the topic for the case study competition for the FSF 2019 scholarship.

For her winning entry, Garb chose to expand the American-based cosmetics chain Ulta to Mexico. In addition to a $5,000 award, the 2019 scholarship afforded her valuable internship opportunities, one of which she’ll be pursuing this summer at Burlington, a national department store retailer.

Like the other scholarship winners, being fashion-forward and business-focused are characteristics that Garb embraces. But despite these similarities, Garb is one of the first Orthodox Jews to have won the FSF scholarship. At her first FSF Gala dinner, she quickly realized that she could be the only Lubavitch Chasid the other winners might have ever met.

It was her kosher meal that set off the alarm bells. “Everyone thought I was a vegan,” joked Garb. But on a serious note, that realization also gave her a heightened sense of responsibility. “My intention was to represent Judaism and Yeshiva University well.”