Sara Mejia

Sara Mejia wants to open her own business full of her creations. When Sara isn’t studying, she likes to work out, cook, and socialize with friends.

Get to know Sara

  • Major: Apparel, merchandising, and design, product development and innovation discipline
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Ottumwa, Iowa (Wapello County)
  • Career goal: Own a design business
  • Clubs/activities: Multicultural Vision Program, CHS Honors Program
  • Awards/honors: Multicultural Vision Program scholarship, Dean’s list, Academic Program of Excellence scholarship, Noma Scott Lloyd Memorial scholarship
  • Favorite place on campus: Textiles and Clothing Museum
  • Most influential ISU mentor: Monica Martinez
  • Favorite class: AMD 204, Textile Science
  • Why Iowa State: Well-established apparel, merchandising, and design program

Sara Mejia finds new strength, pursues career in apparel, supports BIPOC community

Sara Mejia grew up in a small town that didn’t reflect her love of fashion. In high school, she began watching fashion-focused YouTubers who inspired her to explore her creative side. She found that expressing herself through fashion made her feel more like herself. Now she is building her future by studying apparel, merchandising, and design with a minor in sustainability, at Iowa State University.

Sara aims to one day own her own store filled with designs that emulate her style and interest in sustainability. She wants to help others express themselves in a way she couldn’t when she was younger.

“I didn’t feel like I was expressing myself correctly,” Sara said. “When I saw myself in the mirror, I didn’t feel like I looked like me. [My interest] started with Pinterest and it led to YouTube — and then I heard about thrifting and sustainability, and it pretty much sprouted from there. I learned about the sustainable fashion movement and how it impacts millions of lives and the environment.”

As a first-generation student and person of color from a low-income family, Sara initially felt alone. She found the Multicultural Vision Program at Iowa State, which helps students acquire a sense of belonging, connect socially, achieve academic success, practice leadership, and get involved in the community. Now, as a peer mentor in the program, Sara guides other students as they transition into college life.

Sara finds the open dialogues at Iowa State about mental health refreshing.

“I feel like, especially with the Black, Indiginous, people of color communities, mental health is not really something that’s talked about culturally,” she said. “… It’s like there’s some sort of shame that comes along with it [… .] Now that I know more about the cultural aspect, I just want to help other people who were in that same situation as me, coming in from low-income families who don’t see people like them all the time.”

Sara said that since neither of her parents had gone to a university, it was hard for them to understand the college world she was learning to navigate. She found in herself a new resourcefulness and a drive to adapt successfully to her surroundings.

“I pretty much had to figure things out by myself,” she said “I wouldn’t say my family wasn’t supportive, but they were very confused as to what I was going to do with my future. When I told them I wanted to be in apparel, they were worried about what could happen to my financial future. So I scoured the internet for ways to fund my dreams.”

Growing up, Sara was a perfectionist who didn’t take risks that might hinder her academic future. She brought those behaviors with her to Iowa State. She learned through her college experience that she had to open herself up to the possibility of making mistakes so she could reach her full potential.

“I never thought I was someone important,” she said. “My biggest challenge was facing myself, because the whole point of me coming to Iowa State was to grow, and I wasn’t growing. I was doing perfect academically, but I didn’t have a life out of school. I just had to realize that I need to do more, and in order to do more I have to let go of this mindset, these habits and routines that I was carrying with me … in order to succeed in life, to be better, and to … help people more.”

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