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Purple Threads 

Students Anthony Gomez and Ann-Marie Wilhelm look over some of the business wear collected for Purple Threads, which will open in the spring. (Photo by Brian Busher)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 4, 2018) – Open your closet, and take out that still stylish business suit that you just can’t seem to squeeze into anymore.

Bring that suit to the Campus Center West Multipurpose Room on Friday, Dec. 7, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. following the President’s Community Coffee Hour and donate it to Purple Threads.

Purple Threads is a new professional clothing closet that will offer UAlbany students free business attire. It will open in the spring on the second floor of the Campus Center.

Noah Simon, director of the Office of Career and Professional Development, said, “The goal of Purple Threads is to provide current UAlbany students the opportunity to acquire much needed professional attire at no cost.”

The concept came from Karen McNeill, assistant dean for Undergraduate Education and Claudio Gomez, senior academic advisor/EOP counselor.

“Claudio and I work closely with students who apply for the legislative internships,” said McNeill. “For years, we’ve seen the need for professional attire for our students. Professional clothing can be expensive, not something they can afford to invest in.”

They and other staff members have sometimes paid out of their own money to help students buy professional clothing. In 2017 she and Gomez were brainstorming about this issue and she told him about the clothing store at her son’s high school.

“We both agreed that we could create something similar on our campus and we ran with the idea. Claudio immediately got to work on creating the committee that would help bring this idea to reality,” McNeill said.

When it first opens the closet will be run by staff, and the goal is to have students from the Community and Public Service Program staff it at some point in the future. Purple Threads, like the Student Emergency Fund and the University’s partnership with St. Vincent de Paul food pantry, will help students find the resources they need to stay in school and be successful.

McNeill and Gomez sought out Sheri Stevens from the Community and Public Service Program and Tibisay Hernandez from the Office of Career and Professional Development for the committee. Both help students prepare for internships and service, and they agreed there is a need. The name Purple Threads was Hernandez’s idea.

“Claudio and I are thankful that people understood the need for this service, and agreed to make this simple idea a reality for our students,” said McNeill. “Student Affairs took the lead this summer and we are happy that the committee is now a true partnership with various individuals who represent several offices on this campus.”

Simon and Sally D’Alessandro of Student Care Services took the lead on calling the committee together for meetings. Members, in addition to Gomez, McNeill, Hernandez and Stevens, include:

  • Cynthia Calautti, coordinator for Student Affairs Communications & Marketing
  • Sally D’Alessandro, Student Care Services
  • Anna Karlsson, Undergraduate Education
  • Brian Rudolph, Development

Purple Threads organizers

From left, Claudio Gomez, Tibisay Hernandez, Karen McNeill, Cynthia Calautti, Sally D'Alessandro and Noah Simon. (Photo by Brian Busher) 

“I want our students to know that Purple Threads is a service for them,” McNeill said. “We don’t want them to be stressed about purchasing professional attire to land that internship or job. We can help them make a great first impression without their having to spend a dime.”

“Purple Threads is truly a partnership and represents the best of our UAlbany community,” Simon said. “Faculty, staff and alumni providing much needed professional clothing for our students so they can feel more confident as they go out and look to impress on an interview, at a career fair or their first day on the internship or job.”

Students Affairs, Undergraduate Education, EOP, the CPSP and University Development have all collaborated on the venture.

For those who can’t make it on Dec. 7, donated professional clothing can be dropped off at CPSP in SS112 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or at Campus Center Connections, off the main lobby.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.