Victoria McCullah is a fashionista with faith.
In fact, it was her blind faith in ETSU that led McCullah toward finding the right learning environment and realizing her dream of becoming a fashion buyer.
“My parents wanted me to be pre-med, but I truly love fashion and I know it’s what I want to do,” she said.
McCullah, who is now an accomplished senior with an internship at Hut No. 8 clothing store, was once a distraught freshman facing tough decisions about her future.
After attending orientation at a community college, McCullah says she immediately realized it wasn’t the right choice and panic ensued. She frantically explained her disappointment to her parents and described the forthcoming semester as “13th grade.”
Knowing that she was up for a new challenge, McCullah’s mom encouraged her to brainstorm and think of other higher education options outside their home in Campbell County.
“My mom said to pick any school that I’d want to go to and she’d call immediately,” McCullah said. “Off the top of my head, I said, ‘ETSU.’”
Before orientation, McCullah had never been to Johnson City, let alone ETSU.
“It was later in the summer when I had orientation,” she said. “I was scared and anxious and wondering if I made the right decision to go two and half hours away from home.”
All her fears subsided once the Preview and Orientation Leaders (POLO) began chanting, “Are you proud to be a Buccaneer?”
It was then that McCullah knew she was going to leave her mark at ETSU.
“I could tell that the POLO leaders were so passionate and I wanted to be that way, too,” she said. “I looked at my mom and said, ‘OK, this is my home for the next four years. I’m so glad I made this decision.’”
McCullah immediately became involved on campus, joining POLO and Alpha Delta Pi. She followed her passion for fashion and decided to major in marketing with a concentration in merchandising. Now, she’s vice president of the Merchandising Association.
“We do a lot of professional development and often take field trips. It’s a great way to see what you can do in merchandising,” she said.
McCullah is getting a lot of valuable merchandising experience this semester at Hut No. 8 in Johnson City, which buys and sells “gently used” brand name clothing for teens and young adults. She sorts clothing and accessories brought in by customers and helps choose which items the store will purchase, much like what she hopes to do in the future as a buyer for a large retailer.
At Hut No. 8, she’s also learning how to create unique floor displays by dressing mannequins in the latest styles to entice customers looking into the shop’s front windows. Plus, McCullah is honing her communication skills and helping the store increase its social media presence.
“What we learn in our books and the things our professors say make sense, but I’ve never actually experienced it,” she said. “By coming in the workplace and seeing it unfold in front of you, it really connects the dots.”
Because of the positive learning experiences she has encountered at ETSU, McCullah aspires to teach students much like herself someday.
“I want to leave ETSU better than I found it,” she said. “I’m proud to say that I’m
a Buccaneer and I want students to see that this is a great place to make your home
for four years.”