By Avianna Stein
Professional wear can be prohibitively expensive, but ask any student applying for an internship or a new job; it’s necessary to make a good impression when meeting employers. Enter the WSU Everett Cougar Closet, a new resource providing students with free, gently used interview-ready clothing. Since the March 2023 opening, the Cougar Closet has been a hit—filling the racks with donations from the community has helped eliminate one of the financial barriers many students face when embarking on their career journeys.
A social media post about the Cougar Closet inspired Sidney Shea (Integrated Strategic Communication, Class of 2019) to host a get-together with friends to support their alma mater. Sarah Larsen, who graduated with Sidney, attended the event. “We had a clothes swap,” explained Sarah, “We just brought all of our clothes and had a little brunch, and anything left over, Sidney created a whole WSU Everett bag.”
“We’d originally planned on donating everything to a local women’s shelter,” said Sidney, “but seeing how much professional clothing was left over, we just thought about WSU Everett and how close it is to us.”
The donation made by Sidney and Sarah was timely, providing a diverse collection of women’s attire for professional settings. Sarah was delighted to help her alma mater, although she hadn’t realized the full impact of her donation until it was delivered. “I remember Hayley (Statema, WSU Everett’s Development Director and a fellow alum) just kept repeatedly saying how grateful she was,” said Sarah.
“The fact that our willingness to donate these clothes made many in the community grateful to us was an ‘aha’ moment for me,” said Sarah, “it was just so easy to do, and moving forward, we’re figuring out how we can do that in different ways.”
“When we were both in college, we’d huddle together to figure out what we were wearing to interviews or even, you know, for professional presentations for our classes,” said Sidney. Her experiences with the financial burden of purchasing appropriate attire fuel her desire to give back.
Sarah also recalls the stress that purchasing business attire for her internship had on her budget. “I wish that there had been a resource like the Cougar Closet. It would have been more affordable and accessible to me. If there had been a closet back then, I probably would have used that,” she said.
The impact of their donation goes beyond providing clothing; it empowers students to excel. Through their act of giving, Sidney and Sarah inspire students to pursue their dreams and remind them of the strong Coug support network they have access to. What started as a fun get-together among friends became a powerful opportunity for civic engagement. “WSU Everett is such a unique community,” Sidney shared, “and so, hopefully, by what we’re doing, it inspires students who are here to look forward to giving back themselves.”
Sydney and Sarah’s generosity demonstrates their heartfelt commitment to student success. Their donation to the Cougar Closet provided much-needed resources and sent a powerful message of support, reinforcing the culture of giving at WSU Everett.