by Emily Orischak, Staff Writer
The seats were filled on Friday when fashion designer and Project Runway contestant Pamela Ptak joined the incoming freshman class to talk about their future goals and dreams.
“She was very entertaining,” Megan Zanes, a freshman nursing major, explained after the presentation. “She educated us about present day issues and…engaged the audience well by encouraging participation.”
Jaclyn DeCarlo, a dance and English major, agrees, saying she learned “if we set our mind to it, we can accomplish anything we want.”
During her seminar, Ptak asked others about their dreams and goals in life. Kaiya Primus, a media and communications major, responded that her goal is to change the media so that the news becomes less about dramatics and more about reality.
Students were not the only ones to find inspiration. One key point Christine Nowik, the assistant dean of student success and retention, took away from the talk was that “even if [a student] doesn’t appear or act in a certain way, it doesn’t mean she isn’t successful.”
The FYE committee selected Ptak as a guest speaker because she is committed to individuals being treated fairly, and her philosophy fits well with the FYE theme.
Ptak began designing while she was in high school. She had always loved sewing dresses and outfits for her dolls when she was younger, and the passion never left. Ptak gave up fashion when she attended community college in pursuit of art.
After college, Ptak moved to New York to work in advertising. Her goal was to “sprinkle up” the uptight CEO’s by starting at the bottom of the barrel and working her way up.
It wasn’t until she was in her thirties that Ptak began to get back into fashion. Being a woman in the workplace became a struggle for Ptak, resulting in lower wages.
When asked how she dealt with road blocks, Ptak responded, “How do you keep doing it? You must…you give a lot passionately and hope it bears fruit.”
And for her it did. In 2010 Ptak became a contestant on the fashion design show “Project Runway.” Even though she was eliminated on the second episode, Ptak was awarded $1,000,000 in advertising money and began launching her career.
“The networks are out there,” Ptak said. “You just don’t know it.”
Nowik agreed, saying, “It is important for women to find those networks.”
Ptak still has not given up on fashion. She and her husband, Scott Hanna, have opened up an art school of their own in Riegelsville, Pa. called The Arts and Fashion Institute. There, Ptak instructs classes in fashion design and sewing.
Having accomplished many of her own dreams, Ptak makes it her mission to aid others in the pursuit of their own.
“Don’t give up if something gets in the way,” said Ptak after her presentation. “A dream is not put in your head without a method or a reason.”
As she goes on to reach her next goal in life, Ptak continues her efforts to help those in the Cedar Crest community who wish to succeed in their dreams.