April 9, 2020

Centenary University fashion students and faculty join the fight against COVID-19, using design and sewing skills to create face masks for at-risk workers

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., April 9, 2020—Fashion majors at Centenary University are putting their design and sewing skills to good use during the COVID-19 crisis producing face masks for workers on the front lines fighting the pandemic.

Incorporating the ongoing crisis into the curriculum, Associate Professor of Fashion Mia Whang, Ph.D., and Professor of Fashion and Costume Design Meghan Reeves have assigned students in their courses the task of creating the masks. Students studying Draping, Computer Applications in Fashion, Visual Retailing, and Advanced Apparel Construction are all taking part in the effort. The University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion, with concentrations in design and merchandising, as well as a fashion minor.

Since students and faculty are observing the state-mandated quarantine, they are each distributing masks to family, friends, and acquaintances who need them most. A native of Rhode Island, Professor Reeves has created New England Patriots-themed masks for a friend’s pharmacy team in her home state, as well as for Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Twin Boro Physical Therapy in New Jersey.

Dr. Whang has also incorporated sustainable practices into the assignment, instructing students to consider resources such as old clothing that can be fashioned into face masks. Kora Milligan of Netcong, one of Dr. Whang’s students, donated her masks to a neighbor who is a respiratory therapist at St. Clare’s Hospital in Dover. The sophomore has also sewn additional masks using kits supplied by a local craft retailer.

In creating the masks, Centenary fashion students and professors join a broader effort by the fashion industry, including several prominent fashion houses, to turn their talents toward mitigating the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. “Part of Centenary’s mission is our dedication to preparing students to be productive and caring members of society,” Professor Reeves explained. “We want students to know that the skills they are learning can be used to give back to the community, even if we can’t leave our homes. This is also a way to help the individual calm their own anxiety and channel it into a more useful task.”


Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs at two locations, Parsippany and Edison, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.

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