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ASU California Center buzzing as students start fall 2023 semester

New programs, such as ASU FIDM, offered this year


Students walking down the streets of Los Angeles

Isabella Koppenhafer (left) and Taylor Craig, fashion students at ASU FIDM, walk to the Fall Welcome event in Los Angeles. Photo by Armand Saavedra/ASU

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August 30, 2023

While students on the metropolitan Phoenix campuses of Arizona State University were unpacking their belongings and preparing for the start of the fall 2023 semester, 350 miles away in Los Angeles, another group of ASU students was getting ready to start their new year during a Fall Welcome event.

Energy and spirits were high on the cusp of the new school year as students were introduced to their programming and faculty. The program started at the ASU California Center Broadway location and concluded at the Grand location, home to ASU FIDM, established in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Earlier this year, ASU incorporated the FIDM community and campus into its fashion program.

“They gave us so much information and resources to prepare us for our first day,” said Luna Isabella Miranda, a first-year student from La Habra, California, studying fashion. “I felt like we would be supported in anything in our community.”

Students were excited for their courses and to embrace the Los Angeles experience.

“The ability to study in the heart of Los Angeles, so close to the Fashion District and the leading edge of creative streetwear design globally, drew me here,” said Robert Qilin Brahm, a Beijing-born student.

Miranda and Brahm are among dozens of students in the first Los Angeles cohort to attend ASU FIDM, which now offers fashion courses in L.A. and on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

RELATED: Fashion aficionado ready to expand horizons at ASU FIDM in downtown LA

“The Fall Welcome event in Los Angeles was an inspiring celebration of our students and a glimpse into the promising experiences they will have in California,” said Nancy Gonzales, executive vice president and university provost. “Our ever-expanding California portfolio includes ASU FIDM, ASU Local — Los Angeles and Long Beach, The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, the Cronkite News L.A. Bureau, and many others, offering more opportunities than ever for students from Arizona, California and across the nation.

"I look forward to seeing the accomplishments these students will make over the next year and into the future as our California presence grows.”

The excitement was felt not only by the students but by the faculty in the first week.

“The faculty are invigorated and seeing the potential of these new students,” said Dennita Sewell, director of ASU FIDM.

“I’m impressed by their excited energy and talent, conceptually and visually,” said Cullanete Bloom, who teaches Foundations in Fashion Design Communication. “We have a really diverse cohort here, including more men.”

Miguel Barragán, a professor and the assistant director of student success and curriculum for ASU FIDM, who also moderated a panel discussion at the welcome event, noted the many opportunities fashion students have studying in Los Angeles.

“We’re in the heart of the Fashion District, with the California Market Center blocks away and many opportunities in manufacturing, merchandising and buying,” he explained. “The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are here. You’re exposed to Hollywood and Southern California culture. Add to that all the resources that ASU provides.”

Chelsi Woods, a fashion design student from Oakland, California, noted how freeing the city environment was for her.

“I attended a small, private Catholic high school where we had to wear uniforms every day. Here, I’m learning to get around by taking the Metro and exploring the city with some of my new classmates.”

Miranda, whose cousin graduated from FIDM and had toured FIDM prior to its partnership with ASU, was particularly excited that ASU FIDM offered four-year programming.

“What drew me to (ASU FIDM) was that it has a program in fashion business management, which was perfect for me and touches on styling, the career I want to pursue,” she said.

Overall, energy was high heading into the new semester.

“I think it’s really starting to get exciting for the students now,” Sewell noted. “Many of these students had planned and saved for this moment for some time, and their passion for fashion really comes through.”

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