Monthly Archives: September 2012


For its 40th anniversary, Carolee, the noted costume-jewelry maker, held a contest within FIT to design five collections that blend the classic, sophisticated Carolee look with a fresh, fashiony edge.

On Thursday, September 13, the winners convened at the Carolee counter at Bloomingdale’s to try on their designs. They, along with execs from Carolee, FIT, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and Nylon magazine, crowded into an aisle between jewelry cases and sipped prosecco, nibbled on macarons, and took in congratulatory remarks.

The five winners of Carolee's design contest

Carolee’s FIT Student Design Competition Winners from FIT’s Jewelry Design major, left to right: Palwasha Iqbal ’12, Prakshi Sharma ’12, Elyse Spencer ’13, Yoonji Choi ’12, and Christine Gonzalez ’13 (and Advertising and Marketing Communications ’99). (PRNewsFoto/CAROLEE)

“This store is about dreams and aspirations,” Joel Fivis, president and COO of Carolee, said. “We are very proud to have played a part in helping these students reach their aspirations.”

“The future of design is secure,” Karen O’Brien, vice president of marketing (and fellow FIT alumna), said.

Each winner received $1,000, and five dollars from the sale of each piece will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Carolee also sponsored a $2,500 annual scholarship to one Jewelry Design student. The first winner was Vanessa Marek, Jewelry Design ’13.

FIT students’ winning designs for Carolee. Clockwise from top left: Palwasha Iqbal’s Deco Jazz, Christine Gonzalez’s Bold Geometry, Yoonji Choi’s Peacock Blues, and Prakshi Sharma’s Heirloom Lace. Center: Elyse Spencer’s pieces. (PRNewsFoto/CAROLEE)

The winners were charmingly modest about their stunning works.

“I was afraid of these earrings. I didn’t think people wore earrings like this anymore,” said Prakshi Sharma, who flew in from India for the occasion. Her Heirloom Lace collection drew on the shapes that snake charmers make out of their snakes. “American style is simple and straight, but this is complex.”

Yoonji Choi based her collection, Peacock Blues, on the cockiest bird in the animal kingdom. “People will get a chance to feel like a prima donna on the stage,” Choi said. She brought in a splash of light blue to make the pieces feel younger and trendier.

The People’s Choice award went to Elyse Spencer, the youngest designer in the contest. The secret to her populist appeal? “My roommate Natalie got a lot of people to vote for me,” she said.


FIT is home to talent of many stripes. One such stripe, apparently, is figure skating. Kevin Coppola, International Trade and Marketing ’13, took home first prize at the U.S. Figure Skating Collegiate Championships in August.

Hue is doing triple axels in the office.

Kevin Coppola, figure skating champion

Kevin Coppola skates for the win. Hue wishes more people had come to watch.

Coppola skated two programs, one to the music from Requiem for a Dream, the other to Children of Dune. His total score was 113.42, light years ahead of the second place senior man, who earned a 78.99.

The numbers are equally impressive on the academic side: he’s a Presidential Scholar with a stellar GPA.

He’s been skating since he was five, though he retired in high school after fracturing his hip bone. He shed his Olympic dreams and focused on his academics.

“If you get hurt and take time off, there’s no way to catch up again,” he says.

Like Cher and Michael Jordan, however, he didn’t stay retired for long: When he came to FIT, he decided to give skating a go once more.

“At first I thought I was going to be fine with moving on,” he says. “But I felt like I wasn’t finished with it yet.”

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt (This is Coppola’s long program, set to the Children of Dune soundtrack. Skip ahead to 00:50 to see the beginning.)

These days, he wakes up at 5 am four days a week and buses an hour out to Hackensack to practice for three hours. On the weekends, he coaches kids to help pay for school.

Already he can land four triple jumps: the triple Salchow, triple toe loop, triple loop, and triple flip. He’s working on his triple lutz. The famed triple axel, which is actually 3.5 turns, isn’t in the cards right now.

“To learn triples, one jump can take up to a year,” he says. “It’s really a lot of practice.”


Growing up near Youngstown, Ohio, Assistant Professor of English and Speech Matthew Petrunia never tasted a wedding cake. Instead, the staple dessert at weddings for him was the cookie table—or, more accurately, tables, lined up all around the ballroom, crowded with platters of cookies baked by the couple’s family and friends, enough for every guest to gorge on about 30 of them.

Hue thinks that just takes the cookie.

“The first wedding I went to after moving to Colorado, there was no cookie table,” Petrunia remembers. “I thought it was a colossal joke.”

For an info session for incoming students about Liberal Arts minors on August 23, he decided to bring the tradition to FIT and create a cookie social, where students could mingle with professors in a relaxed, butter-heavy setting.

Matthew Petrunia's cookie table

The cookie table: Starting from bottom right, the cookies are pizzelles, marmalade thumbprints, apple thumbprints, and pecan tarts.

But procuring all those baked goods was no cookiewalk. He drove more than seven hours to Santisi’s IGA Marketplace in Girard, Ohio, and picked up 1,500 cookies, plus 15 pounds of Giannios chocolate candies, then drove right back. (Cookies from a respected supermarket, apparently, can stand in for the home-baked variety.)

The goodies came from a melange of ethnicities: clothespin cookies (a flaky crust with a cream filling), kolache cookies (filled with apricot, poppyseed, or nuts; also called foldover cookies), and buckeyes (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate), but none of the chocolate-chip variety. “I was interested in bringing cookies they hadn’t seen before.”

The cookie table

The cookie table (again). From bottom, Italian wedding cookies (the white balls), walnut bars, raspberry kolaches, nut kolaches, buckeyes, and kiffles.

He plated the sweets with Fenton Glass and Viking Glass, colorful candy dishes that everybody’s grandmother owned when he was growing up. FIT’s cookie table became a rainbow of glass and jelly.

Handkerchief vase

Giannios candies inside a Viking handkerchief vase

Then the students flooded in, and the treats went like hotcookies. The buckeyes disappeared after just 40 minutes.

“There were polite cookie-takers who took three and walked away,” he says. “Then there was this one girl who had about 20 cookies on this little plate. I like that she lost control.”

Crowds at the cookie table

Students loving the liberal arts (plus cookies)

By the time the room emptied two hours later, just 23 marmalade thumbprint cookies remained. Clearly, at FIT, you can’t have your cookie and eat it too.

By Monday, 22 students had signed up for a Liberal Arts minor. Now isn’t that just the icing on the cookie?