Thanks to the Sooner Suit Up program, Jonny Kaleka, junior international area major, now has a brand new suit to wear for his internship at the OU President’s Associates Office — and throughout his career.
“I applied to the Suit Up program because I felt the need to prepare for a career,” said Kaleka, who got involved with the program last year and won the Sooner Suit Up scholarship. “This event is special to OU because it's the only one of its kind. There are many scholarships out there; however, this will impact a student’s professional journey.”
The Sooner Suit Up event is back again this year and will involve more students in need of professional wear. The event takes place from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Moore JCPenney, 2400 S. I-35 Service Road, and helps students find clothes to kickstart their professional careers.
Here’s the gist: Students show up at JCPenney and purchase professional apparel at 70 percent off. Prices for men’s and women’s suits — plus accoutrements — range from $80-$200.
Sharon Alexander, director of Sooner Suit Up, says this program is important because it poises the students to start their careers on the right foot. Many groups work in guiding and connecting Alexander to students who would benefit from the Suit Up program. Those include Kristen Partridge, associate vice president for Student Affairs and associate dean of students; Becky Barker, director of Leadership and Volunteerism; and the OU Henderson Scholars.
Last year alone, 218 students attended. Sooner Suit Up was able to award 86 men’s suits, 188 dress shirts, 189 ties and 117 belts. In total, Sooner Suit Up was given over $57,000 in donations for charter buses, gift cards and thank you gifts. Because of their success, the Sooner Suit Up team is excited to announce they’re providing more transportation from the OU campus to the Moore JCPenney this year.
Caroline Bennett, senior human relations major, was so impressed the first year she volunteered with the event that she decided to come back and participate the following year.
“Sooner Suit Up is cool because you’re not just getting suits or pant-suits, you’re finding a way to present yourself for different instances,” Bennett said. “The Sooner Suit Up program has grown so much. The first year we hosted Sooner Suit Up, it was at the Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center. Now that we are hosting it at JCPenney it’s amazing. I hope everyone considers this great program!”
Along with Camp Crimson, OU's incoming freshmen orientation camp, and several other organizations around campus, Sooner Suit Up is fundraising through OU’s Thousands Strong micro-funding campaign through May 16.
Colton Snelling, junior international securities major, also was chosen for the Sooner Suit Up scholarship and said he was overcome with appreciation because of how much the program has helped him.
“I would just like to say thank you and to express how much this will help me," Snelling said. "I was able to get my first suit ever ... Having these new items will allow me to further both my career in the work field and my education.”