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School of CAED: From Design Week to Costa Rica

Emmanuel Tobias had no idea that Dallas College had a fashion program when he first enrolled in classes at the El Centro Campus. He was taking math and business classes when a classmate asked if he’d be interested in modeling at the college’s upcoming fashion show. 

What type of impact did that make? 

“The next semester,” Tobias said, “I enrolled in the program.” 

Tobias went on to graduate with his associate degree in pattern design in 2007. He later earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of North Texas. Fast forward to today and it’s come full circle as Tobias is the point person for Dallas College’s Design Week

It’s a fun-filled week with several events taking place at El Centro, and the signature event — the Future of Fashion Showcase — being held at On The Levee in Dallas’ Design District on Thursday, April 25. 

Passion For Fashion

Tobias has always had a passion for fashion. It’s an everyday avenue to express yourself in various ways, and he’s enjoyed passing it on to younger generations. He worked as an adjunct instructor at Dallas College for five years before becoming a full-time faculty member. 

Tobias has helped grow the fashion department by enhancing events such as Fashion Week. He’s also excited about new opportunities on the horizon for students. 

Tobias was among a contingent from Dallas College that visited Universidad Creativa (UCreativa) in Costa Rica last fall. The colleges are working toward a partnership for study abroad opportunities that would allow Dallas College students to study in Costa Rica as early as this summer through the Office of International Engagement and Global Competitiveness. 

Ahava Silkey-Jones, Dallas College’s vice provost of the School of Creative Arts, Entertainment and Design, is excited about seeing the partnership flourish. It all started back in Fall 2022 when Silkey-Jones and her staff put on a viewing party of the UCreativa fashion show. Then, UCreativa sent a student and faculty member to Dallas College’s fashion show in Spring 2023. Now, Dallas College is expected to send students to the program in Costa Rica. 

“It was an exciting and fruitful experience,” Silkey-Jones said. “We will continue to work on developing courses and exchange programs that fit the unique qualities of each of our programs.” 

Pura Vida

That is the one phrase that Tobias remembers vividly during his trip to Costa Rica. It means “pure life” and no country embodies that mantra more than Costa Rica, Tobias said. 

Tobias described a calmness among the citizens, one in which they take time to eat meals and promote mental health. It’s a country that doesn’t have much trash on its streets. It takes pride in nature as tourists see everything from sloths to macaws in their natural habitats. 

“We think of a sloth as lazy, but the sloth is slow because it’s conserving  energy,” Tobias said. “That’s a motto in their country — conserve energy, live life. They’re a very wholesome country. I came back like, ‘Wow. I can apply a lot of those things into my life here in a very fast-paced world.’” 

After the trip, Tobias has implemented some of those traits into his classroom as well. He encourages students to take breaks.  

“Our program is very stressful and demanding,” he said. “Our students are there all day. You can get stressed and worry, so I tell them to go outside and breathe fresh air. Come back and feel re-energized.” 

Fashion Takeaways

Tobias had a once-in-a-lifetime moment during the UCreativa fashion show, meeting Signe Zeikate, the first lady of Costa Rica. Zeikate commented on Tobias’ fashion that day, saying she “loved it.” 

“She was so curious to know who I was. I just thought that was the coolest thing,” Tobias said, smiling. “When am I going to meet the first lady of anywhere?” 

After that encounter, Tobias enjoyed seeing the various fashion designs created by the students. A strong theme throughout centered on sustainable clothing with a beachy and tropical flare.  

“The talent that I saw at UCreativa was super advanced,” Tobias said. “I was just blown away by the amount of creativity that I saw for a small country.” 

Tobias went on to say he appreciated how much collaboration went into making the show. Everyone, from designers to photographers to videographers to animators, worked together to produce a high-end product. 

“I thought that was so cool,” he said. “It seemed like something from New York.” 

It’s something Dallas College students will be able to see firsthand in the near future. 

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