If you’re in college, you’re probably not thinking about prom anymore. You’re certainly not thinking about it for an entire semester, but for these two SMAD seniors, thinking about prom became their job.
Molly Hoffmaster and Erin Greene have spent their final semester at JMU working with Discovery Dukes, a partnership between The Discovery Channel and JMU to create internships on campus.
As the two Say Yes to the Prom interns, Greene and Hoffmaster have spent their year working with TLC and the Discovery channel on a nationwide initiative to help under-privileged girls have a fairy-tale prom night. “They bring in high school students who are deserving and work hard in school and just give them a day of pampering and encouragement and give them a prom dress and have a mentor match up with them along with all the accessories that go with prom,” Greene said.
“We were asked to collect five hundred dresses and get them donated from the Harrisonburg community and JMU as a whole,” Hoffmaster added. “It’s a chance to donate your dress and give it another chance to live.” Throughout the semester, the pair also did a 360 ad campaign to create awareness and encourage people to donate.
But Say Yes to the Prom isn’t all makeup and shoes. “When we were up at the event in Silverspring [Maryland] these students are in incredible . . . they are going to be the people to change the world” Greene said. She believes that Say Yes to the Prom will give girls“those memories that we all treasure, or at least the both of us treasure so closely.”
“Monte Durham from Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta, he hosts the entire event, so it was cool because at the beginning he was asking them ‘so who’s interested in fashion and who’s interested in this?’ and none of them raised their hands,” Hoffmaster said. “and he asked them ‘so what do you want to be?’ and they were like ‘oh I want to be a doctor’ or ‘I want to be a physician.”
“And justice studies!” added Greene. “It’s not about the dresses, it’s about what they’re going to be doing and the encouragement that the dresses themselves will give to the students.”
The two have also been impressed by the JMU community, whose students have gone above and beyond to donate. In March, they held an event focusing on body image and confidence as well as the dress drive. “The most impressive part for me was that 140 people came and 145 dresses were donated,” Greene said. “We got more dresses than people which was just the best.” Overall, they’ve collected around 200 dresses so far.
Though the Discovery Dukes program is still in it’s infancy, barely two semesters old, Greene and Hoffmaster feel that its already been a success.
“It’s been a really incredible opportunity to learn how real world corporations work.” Greene said. “This is an opportunity to create something that will be implemented and has to go through the proper avenues and has to meet their corporate standards. I have a lot of confidence that I am prepared to graduate and I am prepared to going into the workforce and I do know at least enough to start somewhere.”
Greene added that this experience has taught her to make sure “ that I work for a company that’s involved in the community.”
“We’re the first campus to ever do Say Yes to the Prom dress drive which is really cool for the two of us” Hoffmaster said. “We had to figure out what was going to work and what wasn’t.”
Though they loved the experience, they hope the program will continue on once they’ve graduated. “I’d also love to see it expand to other campuses also” Greene said. “There are only so many JMU students, and that’s limiting. If this could expand to other campuses, that would be so many more dresses and so many more lives changed.”