By Jillian Poland
Interim Asst. News Editor
What is your academic and employment background?
I finished my doctoral degree from Kansas State University this summer, actually. So, I’m a very fresh graduate. I came from Bangladesh, so I have teaching experience from Bangladesh and I was a graduate teaching assistant at Kansas State University. But as a full-time faculty member in the U.S., this is my first job. My bachelor’s degree was in textile engineering, and then I did a master’s, basically an MBA, in advanced engineering management. … Other experience in terms of the industry – I worked in industry four years as a merchandiser back in Bangladesh. Then I did an internship in the U.S. probably summer 2014 in a local industry in Kansas.
What was your favorite undergraduate experience?
I recall a field trip in the industry. That was the first time I saw how this intricate design can be developed, especially on fabric. That is something I can still remember. And another is, on that day, that was the first time I was in the industry and I saw there is a very minute problem in the production process and I can understand that that problem can be eliminated by a very simple process. It does not mean that the people working on that industry are not efficient, they are experienced, but somehow they dealt with bigger problems, not this kind of small problem. So, once I noticed this problem, I gave the information to the production manager and he actually liked my solution. That was kind of my best memory.
What was it like transitioning from Bangladesh to the United States?
That’s a huge transition. One of the things that being an international student was that most of the time, I had to step out of my comfort zone, take all these other comfort zones and transfer them to my comfort zone. So, this is a big leap. Bangladesh is 8,500 miles from here. … There is a cultural leap, a cultural difference. I had to learn culture first, definitely, and also the way of learning and the way of teaching is part of culture, as well. In the United States, I had to observe how they can learn and how they can teach. I mentioned I was a graduate teaching assistant over there, so I had teach and be a student. So, in a shell, it was really a big challenge for me. But you know, within one year, I figured out that I had to adapt some culture here – it’s a good way – so I learned something here. I observed people and I infused those things inside me and I follow those things. Also, in Bangladesh, we have more control with the students. Here, it’s kind of opposite. It has a little bit of leeway, so the student can feel their freedom. I like this, to be honest, compared to Bangladesh, to be honest, because then you can have your own way, a student can have their own words and they can choose what they like. That is something really important to be successful, especially in this discipline. Initially, these were challenges, but I adopted strategies, I observed others, so that I could face these challenges and I could overcome these problems by myself, and I believe I did good work on this thing.
Why did you go into fashion and textile design?
In order to answer this question, I need to talk about my country a little bit. Exporting apparel is one of the biggest foreign currency earning sectors in my country. Out of 100 dollars, around 82 dollars, 82 percent, foreign currency is earned from this sector. That is an economic reason. Apart from this, this sector – I am talking about fashion and textile – 80 percent of the workers in my country, in the world, are women. So a country like mine – my country is a developing country – this sector gives women a voice, a strength, an opportunity to earn for their family. It is a kind of women empowerment. Before this, they had no job, but for this sector they have their own job. They earn money so that they can have their voice and their family. They can send their kids to school, because now they can afford that thing. It’s not that they can live a very high standard of living – not like this – but still it helps them. Also, I like to observe people. That is one of my strengths. I like to see people and what they are doing from a little bit farther away, so one of the things I wonder is, “Why do people wear such different kinds of dress in a different event, in a different occasion, in a different day, and what intrigues them to wear certain dress? … What is the thinking process behind this thing?”
What advice would you give to FSU students?
This is my first semester. What I have found is that the students here, they are really smart. Especially, I’ve seen these students are really passionate to learn something. I love to let them know something new in the classroom, to offer them something new. I can see the spark in their eyes when they’re learning something new in the classroom. … All the students I can see, they have a merit. If they deal with their smartness in the right way, if we show them as a teacher and as a University the right way, if we nurture them in the right way, I believe that there will be no competitor of them. They will be a competitor to each other.