California Educator

February/March 2020

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Page 57 of 63

CTA & You H E R S T U D E N T S A L W A Y S landed the job interviews, but often weren't hired, even though they were qualified. Emily Lynch Morissette pondered this conundrum to understand why. Mori ssett e, a profe ss or and l aw yer w h o r u n s t h e p a r a l e g a l p r o g r a m a t Southwestern College in Chula Vista , s u s p e c t e d t h a t h e r s t u d e n t s s i m p l y w eren' t dre ssin g th e p ar t. Many stu - dents in this low- income, predominantly Latino community struggle financially. Some are homeless. Some are single par- ents. Often, they must choose between food and other necessities and rely on the school's food pantry for sustenance. Under such circumstances, students lack enough money to dress to impress their would-be employers. To remedy that, Morissette created a business attire closet in a conference room that was being used as a storage space. Once the junk was cleared out, it became the Southwestern Cares Closet. Over the past year it's made a difference in many students' lives. "Gosh, what makes this so amazing are the success stories," says Morissette, a member of the Southwestern College Education Association and president of the Academic Senate. "To see them try on clothes that make them look professional, straighten their shoulders and become more confident is so rewarding." Mor i ss e tt e di d n' t cre at e th e C a re s Closet alone; her students and admin- i strativ e a ssi st a nt An g i e Ar i e tti al s o p i t c h e d i n . Fa c u l t y a n d c o m m u n i t y members donated boxes and boxes of lightly used professional clothing, most in cl ean and e xc el l ent c ondition . Al l Southwestern students with a school ID card can come in, browse, try on outfits and keep what they need — no questions asked. Emily Lynch Morissette started the Cares Closet at Southwestern College. Clothes That Work College professor helps students dress for success By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photos by Kim Sanford Earl Danzy says picking out professional clothes at the Cares Closet boosts his confidence. Emily Lynch Morissette lends a hand. 56

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