Alumni Spotlight: Mary Perrone, Class of 2017

Mary graduated from CDA in 2017 and moved to New York immediately after. She's been studying fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her emphasis is on bridal and evening wear. Right now, she's in her senior year and working on her thesis.
How did CDA shape your faith?
At CDA, we started our day at school with prayer. Having friends and teachers that you are comfortable praying with makes CDA a unique, healthy environment. There’s so much encouragement at CDA, and that encouragement comes from having teachers who love the Lord and who have been called to teach. It’s one of the reasons I loved CDA so much. The teachers have a level of understanding that you can only have when the Lord is living within you.

Every single class discussion was centered around faith. I remember Mrs. Powell’s class and Mr. Jordan’s class did an excellent job of teaching us how to analyze scripture. I can now do it on my own in my time with the Lord. CDA teaches you how to read the Bible very well, and having those special classes was helpful.

How did your educational experience impact you on a personal level?
I would describe myself as a very curious person. While I would never major in science, I’m still fascinated with space, and so many things outside of my field of study inspire me all the time. CDA gave me a good taste of multiple subjects. I think the curriculum and the teachers at CDA were wonderful. History and literature were especially helpful for me. I really think you see God through history and how people have lived their lives for generations. We learned so much about the church. The way we read the Bible from a historical context has really aided in how I see the world and how I view scripture.

This strong grasp of history, literature, and philosophy has made researching my fashion collections and understanding trends easier in college. Even beyond fashion, I value my education. I have so much appreciation for everything we learned.

How have you leaned on your faith to help you make difficult decisions?
I have desired to walk with the Lord through college, and it’s something I
constantly pray about. I am constantly seeking the Lord, not only for large decisions like moving to New York, but also everyday choices. When you go to college in New York, or college anywhere, you have to choose to walk faithfully. I had parents, friend groups, and teachers who encouraged me in my faith while at CDA. Everything was taught in a faith-based way, but once you graduate you have to work at it and make it part of your daily life.

How have you exercised servant- leadership since graduating from CDA?
One of the best ways to exercise servant- leadership is through respect and humility. It’s not something you can just label. The fashion industry sometimes glamorizes egotism. I’m really wary of this, and I think it would be so cool to be a creative director at a fashion brand, to treat interns with kindness and have ethical business strategies. I constantly have to ask the Lord to graciously work and live in me. That’s how I exercise servant-leadership.

I don’t think the idea of being a servant is something especially popular in today’s society. Just having that very unique and humble approach to living your life will foster great leaders. It’s so important to share this with young people before they go off and start their college and business careers.

Do you have any encouraging words or advice you’d like to share with current CDA students?
School doesn’t last forever. Try something new! One of the great things about CDA is that you are given every opportunity to participate in art, music, or athletics. Just go for it. If I could go back, I’d play tennis simply because I had the opportunity. Also, enjoy one another. During the pandemic, it has been easier to notice how much we need one another. The community and support system at CDA is very helpful, and it’s something I’ll always treasure.

Mary Designed
CDA’s New Plaid
...COMING SOON

When did you first realize you were interested in fashion?
I’ve always been interested in fashion. It started when I was very young, probably four. I loved playing dress up, having my arms full of bracelets and my hair done. It was more of a fantasy or dream. I never realized it was an actual career choice until high school.

Is this your first time creating a custom plaid design?
I’ve designed dozens of plaids by now, but this is my first time doing it for a client. I’m happy that CDA was my first client. Typically, every collection you design has a plaid, a stripe, and maybe a solid design in mind.

Tell us about your creative process for CDA’s exclusive plaid.
CDA has very thorough brand standards that I was provided with. I looked at the color codes, received information about the culture of each campus, and then considered who would be wearing the plaid. I knew it had to be a plaid that would suit all students, whether tall, petite, thin, or curvy.

Plaids can communicate different moods. You can have a plaid with a southern look, like a picnic table or napkin. Or, you can have an English or Scottish plaid that gives a sense of old military uniforms. While designing for CDA, it was important to find a plaid that looks modern and up to date while also fitting within CDA’s aesthetic.
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