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Students in RIC’s Preparatory Enrollment Program Learn Tips to Succeed 

Scarlet Santos, Amaan Abdur-Rasheed and Leomary Toribilo were among nearly 60 PEP students to attend a

Scarlet Santos, Amaan Abdur-Rasheed and Leomary Toribilo were among nearly 60 PEP students to attend a "dress for success" workshop.

“Dress for success” isn’t a term reserved for jobs interviews. It also applies to students in the classroom, said Demetria Moran of the Rhode Island College Career Development Center, who led a “dress for success” workshop Wednesday for nearly 60 students in the Preparatory Enrollment Program (PEP).

Moran also noted, “Dress is not just clothing and attire.” It refers to appearance, accessories and attitude.  “You’re trying to create an impression… `How can I look credible, professional, attentive, with a can-do attitude?’ ”

These are important lessons for all students, but especially those in the program, which provides financial and academic support to first-generation, low-income students, said David Benevides, a PEP graduate who now is interim coordinator of PEP.

More than 500 Rhode Island high school seniors applied for PEP this year, but only 57 were admitted, Benevides said. They attended five classes this past spring, and they now are enrolled in a six-week program, which includes living in a residence hall, taking two courses and attending workshops to learn skills to succeed at RIC.

The dress for success workshop held in the Faculty Center focused on the proper attire, attitude and approach needed to succeed in the classroom and future careers, Benevides said. The students were encouraged to wear their “best clothes,” and he told them he was impressed when the young men showed up in dress pants, shirts and ties, with the young women wearing skirts, dresses and gowns.

Moran spent about an hour discussing the dos and don’ts of their appearance, including wearing clothes that aren’t too big or too small, nor those that expose too much bare flesh.

She also covered classroom, email and social media etiquette, including:

  • Attendance: “There’s no such thing as fashionably late,”
  • Addressing professors: Start with “Professor.” Never call a professor by his or her first name unless invited to do so.
  • Using email:  Always include a subject in the subject line and check to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Use of social media:  Avoid posting photos or comments that are inappropriate or embarrassing.

The students also were discouraged from using cell phones in a classroom or when engaged in conversation. It’s rude, said Joselin Feliciano, 17, of West Warwick, because you’re not giving that person your undivided attention.

Some topics were familiar, said Amaan Abdur-Rasheed, 18, of Providence, who noted that high school teachers had warned them about not posting inappropriate content on social media. “You have to consider everyone else will see it.”

Other topics were more surprising. Leomary Toribilo, 18, of Providence, said she never thought of jewelry or makeup as accessories that could distract from her image.

Many students said they appreciate the workshops and other opportunities presented by PEP. The best part, Abdur-Rasheed said, “is getting to know the surroundings and getting to meet new people” before classes begin.