Dyese Matthews has been fascinated by fashion since she was a young girl watching her mother get dressed. Now a master's of science student, she focuses on researching the influence of Black fashion and American history with the end goal of being a professor and entrepreneur.
Dyese Matthews plans on become an apparel professor and entrepreneur. When she isn't studying, she enjoys watching HGTV, talking to her mom, sleeping, and doing Zumba.
Dyese Matthews maximizes opportunities within apparel graduate program
As a young girl, Dyese admired her mother’s style and fashion choices. She still fondly remembers a pair of purple shoes her mom built an outfit around when deciding what to wear for an event.
“Fashion has always been an interest of mine, primarily because I loved seeing my mom get dressed,” Dyese said. “Clothing often expresses the life experiences of the wearer, and it is my duty to try and understand those experiences.”
Fashion isn’t her only interest. As an apparel, merchandising, and design master’s student, Dyese has become passionate about many relating topics such as history, Black clothing and culture in America, research, and entrepreneurship.
“When I got presented with the opportunity to mesh [fashion and history], it was like a whole new world,” she said. “Everyone wears clothes… There’s obviously history within that.”
As an example, Dyese explained the way the two areas reflect each other by describing fashion’s influence on African Americans during the civil rights movement.
This topic was the focus of research she presented at the 2017 Midwest Region Annual Costume Society of America Symposium during her undergraduate career. More specifically, she studied Black fashion in Harlem during the 50s and 60s. On top of her presentation being very successful, the experience also made her realize what academic path she wanted to take.
“While doing it, I was having a lot of fun,” Dyese said. “Then I did the presentation and literally all these professors in the field were like, ‘You have to keep doing this.’ And being in the space of seeing others present research… It was a pretty big moment.”
As for her fairly new pursuit of becoming an entrepreneur, Dyese said her AMD 576 class, Industry Applications in Merchandising and Management, inspired her. After graduation, she wants to have her own business while also working as a professor – a goal that’s grown throughout graduate school.
Dyese credited her adviser, Professor Kelly Reddy-Best for helping her realize her desire of “feeling like [she] can have a deeper impact in that role rather than working in the [retail] industry.” Dyese receives support from her peers and professors at Iowa State University as well. She spends a lot of time with Ph.D. students, and seeing their experience is “really inspirational.” Her professors encouraging her to have confidence in herself while dealing with a challenge, such as a difficult statistics class, has motivated her to continue her academic journey.
“The professors here are super supportive. They’re so good at their job, it’s unbelievable,” Dyese said. “They’ve told me their ups and downs and have been really transparent. The support system here is real, and they’ve really helped me.”