Michelle Burton

Passionate about sustainability and teaching, Michelle Burton pursues her goal of lifelong learning by earning her advanced degree and implementing environmentally friendly practices in her life and career.

Michelle Burton aims to land a tenure-track faculty position in apparel merchandising. When she isn't busy working on her research, she enjoys running and being outdoors.

Michelle Burton dives into doctoral studies on sustainability, pursues career in academia

As a lifelong learner, Michelle Burton always wanted to get her doctorate. She discovered that Iowa State University’s online merchandising program would allow her to continue to work and live in Texas while embarking on her Iowa State adventure — so she did just that. 

After taking a course in sustainability taught by apparel, events, and hospitality management assistant professor Rachel Eike, Michelle knew that she had unlocked the world of academia as she had always dreamed.

“My heart was completely won over, and I felt purpose and passion in researching how consumers reuse and repurpose their clothing. I knew I had found how and why I was meant to pursue this advanced degree, and what the end goal was for me as a lifelong learner and scholar,” Michelle said. 

Though she is interested in many facets of sustainability, Michelle felt a strong connection to author Kate Fletcher’s term "Craft of Use" while on a conference trip abroad. This term describes the creative and resourceful ways individuals can practice using their clothing. 

Michelle was chosen to present her research on how consumers care for and maintain their clothing at a conference sponsored by the International Textile and Apparel Association and Regents University. Through this research, she learned more about "Craft of Use." She also built connections, learned about the different sustainable practices Europe and America use, and heard the perspective of keynote speakers.

Michelle practices ‘Craft of Use’ in her own life and within her research. She is currently working on a project in which she is stapling her old running shirts to canvas boards to keep the memories the shirts offered her while practicing sustainability and expressing her creativity. 

“There’s an opportunity to make change, and we all can be a part of it,” she said.

Along with sustainability, Michelle is also interested in consumer behavior motivations. Michelle’s interest in people and learning from them has drawn her to become an educator herself. She has been teaching online for Southern Hampshire University for eight years, as well as for American Public University. She plans to one day hold a tenure-track faculty position in merchandising. 

“I believe every student can achieve and should have an open door towards achieving this success if committed. I want to impart what I have learned to students from all walks of life,” she said.