As a lawyer, Professor Emily Lynch Morissette really understands the importance of clothing and professionalism. That’s why she worked with her pre-law students to develop a small business-attire closet in her former faculty office that her students could use to get free professional business clothes.
Soon, through partnerships with Extended Opportunity Programs & Services, The Sun newspaper and the Jag Kitchen, Lynch Morissette saw that this was really a campus-wide need and decided to expand past her small closet in her old office.
As the Academic Senate President, Lynch Morissette brought her mission and transformed a section of the senate’s conference room into the SWC Cares Closet, a mini-boutique serving all Southwestern College students who need professional clothing assistance. The Cares Closet is located in room 104B on the Chula Vista campus and has a variety of sizes of clothes for every body type. Even though the closet has only been open for less than a semester, it has already served more than 100 students.
“I know how important a professional outfit is in the workplace and I wanted to extend that to the rest of the campus community so that they can walk into a job interview feeling confident and prepared,” Lynch Morissette said. “We want to help students every step of the way here at Southwestern College.”
The Cares Closet has men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, accessories and even a small dressing room and curtain, converted from an old storage space. All students need to be eligible is a valid Southwestern College ID card, and they can pick up to four clothing items each semester. For the spring 2019 semester, the closet is open Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We’ve seen some people come in, looking shy or timid and they walk out with their shoulders held high feeling confident,” Lynch Morissette said. “Every student here deserves that feeling when they’re about to walk into a job interview. Having a closet here and giving people a little bit of confidence can really make a difference.”
Helping students when they walk into the Academic Senate office, in addition to Lynch Morissette, is Angela Arietti who works to create a welcoming and accepting environment and make the students feel comfortable.
“Students are very relieved to come into the Cares Closet, a lot of them come in saying they have a job interview coming up and they need help,” Arietti said. “I had a student come in who tried on and took a dress and then donated a jacket, so even our students are giving back to our closet. They really understand the need for it and the need for donations.”
Members of the campus community who want to help the Cares Closet can work directly with Lynch Morissette and Arietti on what clothing donations or other items are needed, or they can make monetary donations through the Southwestern College Foundation.
“I’m giving back to the community from where I came from, I was a Southwestern College student,” Arietti said. “It’s really nice knowing that you’re giving back to where you came from and that you’re helping the students. That’s part of my goal and why I’m still here after 18 years.”