Nanette Lepore, a Youngstown State University alumna and a world-renowned fashion designer, receives an honorary degree and will be the featured speaker at YSU’s spring commencement on Saturday, May 19.
Graduation ceremonies for undergraduate students begin at 10 a.m., while commencement for graduate students starts at 2:30 p.m. Both ceremonies are in Beeghly Center. More than 1,200 students will receive diplomas.
Featured student speakers are Kaitlyn Fabian, who earns a bachelor’s degree in Dance Management, and Dru Perren, who earns a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
After completing her studies at YSU, Lepore enrolled in New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned a degree in design. Bolstered by a $5,000 loan from her father, Lepore then set out to start her own line of clothing.
Today, Nanette Lepore has grown into an internationally renowned brand with boutiques in the United States, Europe and Asia. There are currently stores in New York, Los Angeles, Bal Harbour, Chicago, Las Vegas, Boston, London and Tokyo, with further expansion in Asia planned for 2012 and 2013.
Lepore continues to design in her atelier in New York alongside her husband, Robert, who helms the business side of the worldwide brand as its president. Manufacturing the majority of her line in the Big Apple, Lepore is an outspoken advocate for New York’s Garment Center.
Fabian is the first graduate of YSU’s new Bachelor of Arts degree in dance management. She is graduating summa cum laude and is also receiving a certificate in entrepreneurship.
During her four years at YSU, Fabian was a Leslie H. Cochran University Scholar and a member of the YSU Honors program. As part of her public service as a University Scholar, she served as the Relay for Life team captain in 2011 and 2012. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and the Clarence P. Gould Honor Society. She also is the recipient of the Kocinski Award for the outstanding senior dance student.
Fabian was a valedictorian of her class at Boardman High School. She came to YSU as an undeclared major with a dance minor until the dance management major was established in her junior year. She held leadership positions in the YSU Dance Ensemble, served as a student choreographer for the group, and served an internship with the Ballet Western Reserve. She was hired last fall as dance enrichment instructor for the new Visual and Performing Arts program at Chaney High School in Youngstown, a position she hopes to continue after graduation, as well as continuing her teaching at a local dance studio. She plans to establish her own Christian-centered dance studio in the future.
Perren’s studies at YSU include a focus on clinical mental health counseling with a specialization in counseling children and adolescents and autism spectrum disorders.
After graduating from Northwest High School in 2005, Perren completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Ursuline College in 2009. As a member of Chi Sigma Iota, Perren was selected as the Most Outstanding Graduate Student in 2011. She has served as a graduate assistant in the YSU Counseling and Special Education Department. Perren has presented research at the local, state and national levels on topics ranging from autism and life skills for individuals with disabilities to discrete trial teaching and differential reinforcement.
Perren completed a clinical mental health counseling internship at Homes for Kids–Child and Family Solutions, and is now employed there. She is also serving as the assistant director of Camp Sunshine of Aurora, a summer camp for students with disabilities. Perren has worked as an in-home applied behavior analysis therapist for six years, working with students with autism.