Columbia Classical Performers, Orchesis, Wallach Hall, the National Residence Hall Honorary—the list goes on and on for the organizations that Maria Sun, CC ’18, has contributed to during her time in the Columbia community.
Sun, an economics and visual arts double concentration, has a breadth of interests that is reflected in her diverse involvement on campus. While she has taken a plethora of positions in various organizations, she becomes especially radiant when she speaks about her brainchild, Columbia University Fashion Society.
“I’ve always been interested in fashion since high school. I had so much clothes that I wore a new outfit literally every single day,” Sun said. “Then, coming here on campus, I wasn’t huge on fashion, but I did notice that there was a lack of a community, which was surprising to me, because we are in New York.”
With this observation, Sun sought out others who were interested in fashion. One of the biggest influences for starting CUFS was Courtland Thomas, CC ’16, whom she met during her sophomore year. Thomas started an intercollege community for fashion called NYC Fashion Intern, which invited fashion companies like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger to come to Columbia for networking events. As NYC Fashion Intern wasn’t an official club and as Thomas was graduating, he asked Sun if she wanted to continue the club. While she was willing to take it on, the academic workload of junior year and other obligations had stalled her until second semester.
“I had so much going on that I didn’t even have the time to work on the existing organization, which was really small—just me at that point,” Sun said. “I do remember, however, after winter break, I was thinking, ‘I have this vision to make a fashion club once, and I just never had the time to do it.’ Then, one day, when I was procrastinating—probably during midterm season or something—I was like, what if I just made a Facebook page?”
From there on, Sun set up the Facebook page and a Gmail account for the CUFS, and having public accounts gave her an incentive to work hard on the club. In setting its character, Sun sought to make the club pre-professional, as she wanted to focus primarily on Columbia students’ interests. Taking the public appeal into account, she decided to make the first event a discussion called “Fashion and Sex,” which asked questions of whether fashion should be gendered or not.
“I think it’s always been my goal to to think about where I want this club to go and what Columbia students are interested in,” Sun said. “This is why I’ve always pushed it as a pre-professional fashion group, because I figured we’re so pre-professional here. Although I think what the club has evolved to now is anything—we have a variety of events.”
Sun ran the club all by herself during the spring semester of her junior year, from reaching out to speakers to putting up flyers in all first-year dorms, Dodge Hall, Lerner, and many other student haunts.
Fall of her senior year was when the club started to move into full swing, as she got over 200 people to sign up at the activities fair. From then on, the club acquired board members who love the work that they do.
“When I got the board together for the first time, I told them that I got the momentum going, but ultimately, I’m not going to be here very long to see it. So, I gave them the option to define what this club is, and I could not be prouder of all the work that they’ve done,” Sun said.
Sun is going on to work at J.P. Morgan, but she is still seeking ways to combine her interests in economics and visual arts.
“I love art, and I’m also interested in economics, finance, and business. And I’m still trying to figure out how to link them together,” Sun said. “I like both, but I want to have a medium. I’m still learning how to get there, but it’s really exciting.”