Junior Aralys Castillo charts a course to a corporate career that’s bound to go global.
Aralys Castillo wants her college education to be a global experience. Born in New Jersey to a Dominican family, she came to UNCG already having two distinct perspectives. The Global Apparel and Related Industries (GARI) concentration in Bryan School’s Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS) program gives her the opportunity to experience more.
Though she is not an aspiring designer, she has a strong interest in fashion, a field that allows her to prepare for a corporate career in which she can “go global.”
The GARI concentration promises study abroad. “It’s exciting to learn new perspectives that will impact the way I see the world and the way I will work in the future,” she says.
From mainstream America to Morocco
For the Spring 2016 semester, Aralys is studying at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco. She writes, from afar, that her experience so far has been “very rich with relationships and friendly encounters.”
Morocco is the perfect fit for Aralys, who is earning a minor in French in addition to an international global studies minor and a double major in CARS and economics. Her first language is Spanish, her second is English; French will be her third. But it’s not just about broadening her language abilities. It’s about stretching herself personally. It’s about gaining those different perspectives that she craves. A Christian, Aralys is curious to learn more about other faiths, like Islam. “If I am going to study abroad, I’m going to do it in a place I know the least about,” she says. “Islam is a religion that I know so little about, but one that we hear so much about in the news. I want to experience it and better understand it.”
A first-generation student, Aralys is thirsty for knowledge. “I am having to sit and listen to perspectives that are different from anything I have heard in the USA and internalize the difference,” she writes from Morocco. “It is a matter of trying to understand, which is one of the hardest things to do, really. Trying to walk in someone else’s shoes when you are used to wearing Nike and they are used to wearing Belgha.”
Understanding the global consumer
According to Aralys, the GARI concentration opens students’ minds to different possibilities. Graduates who work in other countries or in their native U.S. know how to think globally and how to understand the global consumer. The concentration features a wide variety of courses from Culture, Human Behavior and Dress, to Multicultural and Multichannel Retailing. In addition to a foreign language requirement, students in the GARI concentration take courses in the International and Global Studies program. All of this with the intention of preparing students to succeed in the global fashion industry.
Aralys is working on a research project mentored by a CARS Instructor that investigates how non-native people in America express themselves through apparel. Do they try to fit in? Show that they are different? And why? In Morocco, Aralys is able to see her research from a different angle, with herself as the non-native.
Aralys believes that all of these experiences are informing her future career path. After graduation, she plans to earn a master’s degree. Then she hopes to become an analyst, helping a corporation better understand how different consumers from around the world respond to different colors, patterns, fabrics, etc. based on their own cultural experience.
Immersion in a foreign country is critical to gaining the skills she needs and desires. “This experience has made me realize that there is no way that I would have encountered or possibly even tried to comprehend cultural differences just from reading it in a textbook. This is real life, and I am extremely thankful that I am getting the opportunity to step into it.”
The GARI concentration is one of three concentration options available for students in the CARS major. For specific concentration requirements, see the Undergraduate Bulletin.
By Andrea Crossley Spencer