Stern College Student Wins Prestigious Fashion Scholarship

Rina Finkelstein ’22SB was one of 123 recipients this year of a scholarship from the Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF), winning the award for a case study she did called MOD ern/est, a line of clothing she describes as “modern, modest workwear for easy versatility.” Here is how she describes her project:

One of the most important aspects to the MOD ern/est collection is the ease of transition. These pieces and outfits can bring the wearer from Zoom meetings to in-person meetings, since it is focused on top-half, face-framing looks for virtual calls that also look good from head to toe.

The colors of the collection are bright and powerful so that the wearer feels strong and appears bright and healthy on a video call. Additionally, the collection is also easy to wear and easy to put together. All the pieces can be mixed and matched to create multiple unique looks, making getting ready much faster and simpler. Each piece is also made from comfortable material so that the relaxed feeling of Zoom can transition to the office.

According to their website, “the FSF works directly with the country’s most talented young students from diverse backgrounds and awards over $1 million each year in scholarships to help these students succeed in all sectors of the industry including design, merchandising, marketing analytics, and business strategy.” The FSF also provides scholars with internship and career opportunities, mentorship, networking, professional development, and unprecedented access to the industry’s most influential leaders and companies.

YU News had a chance to catch up with Rina to talk about the award, how she got into fashion design and what’s in store for the FSF winner.

(The interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

rina finkelstein fashion award
Rina Finkelstein

Please tell me about your background.  

I am from Teaneck, New Jersey, and attended Bruriah High School and Michlalah before coming to Stern College. I am an honors senior majoring in accounting and minoring in both marketing and studio art.


Tell us about the award and your submission. 

Although my formal education was for the most part unrelated to fashion design, I decided to do the design and product development case study based on the prompt to create a collection that would resonate with the post-COVID consumer and to compile a slide deck that included the designs, technical flats and marketing plan.

I focused on the working woman who will need to be able to easily transfer between in-person and virtual meetings as workplaces begin embracing a hybrid model.

Additionally, all my designs would be suitable for a modest dresser since creating modest and modern clothing is something I am passionate about.


What are some of the benefits of being an FSF winner?

As a scholarship recipient, I not only received scholarship money towards my education but also became a part of the network of alumni, scholarship winners and industry professionals connected to the scholarship fund.

In addition, I am also receiving career mentorship and the opportunity to attend career fairs specifically for the FSF which can hopefully help guide and shape my career.


What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion? 

I have always been interested in fashion design, in designing and trying out new skills. I also taught myself how to sketch and sew along with basic patternmaking, but I am always looking to improve my skills and learn new ones. I thought that fashion was just a dream job until winning the fashion scholarship fund made me realize that it might be possible to make my dream job a reality.


How has being a student at Stern College helped you pursue your career goals?  

Being a student in Stern allowed me the time and the opportunity to explore multiple fields of interest, which has allowed me to major in accounting while also minoring in marketing and studio art as well as take high-level Judaic classes.

Stern College has a joint program with the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), which means that as a studio art minor, I am able to take a course there, which this semester is a course in Adobe Illustrator for fashion design, an essential skill for a designer to have. The course also gives me access to other tools and programs that come along with being a student in FIT.

Lastly, in order to apply for the FSF, the student needs to be in an affiliated school. As a student in Yeshiva University, an affiliated school, I was given the opportunity to apply.


Is there a particular professor that has been a mentor and/or guided you?

Prof. Adam Sternbach. I was a student in Prof. Sternbach’s Fashion Fundamentals marketing class last spring and after a semester of seeing my work, he encouraged me to apply for the scholarship, even meeting with me once over the summer on Zoom to offer feedback on my work.


What would you say to encourage other students interested in going into fashion? 

Fashion is a large and constantly changing industry with many different jobs and people working within it. I would recommend exploring the different aspects of the industry and developing the tangible skills needed in the industry. I believe that doing something that you are interested in and passionate about will make you happy, so if fashion fulfills that, then I definitely encourage you to pursue it!