PAVE Helps Students Fulfill Their Dreams

This year’s PAVE Gala will be held on Dec. 7 at the Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn, N.Y. The annual event helps to raise money for the organization to help forward its vision of enabling young talent to build successful careers in all aspects of the retail industry.

Since 2006, PAVE has awarded $200,000 in scholarships and financial aid to retail design students in need. In addition, since 2008, PAVE has awarded $134,000 to accredited design schools to support programs in retail design.

“Our ability to support students significantly increases each year because of the support of the retail industry,” says Harry Cunningham, head of store development at Vera Bradley and President of PAVE. “On December 7th our dedicated colleagues—retailers, design firms, manufacturers and suppliers—will come together at the annual PAVE Gala to simultaneously have a great time and support a cause we all agree is vital to our industry—education and experience.”

One student who has been helped by PAVE is Emma White, who is studying interior design at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. She plans on graduating in May with a degree in interior design and a minor in marketing. We reached out to her to ask how PAVE helped her to reach her goals.
design:retail: You had been majoring in a different course, and at some point you shifted your studies to interior design. What led you to change your course of study?
White: I wanted to find a major that allowed me to use my creativity in a unique way, but it wasn’t until the end of my first year in school that I learned of the outstanding interior design program at Appalachian State. I began the course of study and began to prepare for the entry portfolio review right away, but was still a year behind in the program.
d:r: How did you find out about PAVE?
White: I found out about PAVE when one of my professors recommended I look into the scholarship opportunities PAVE offers. Since then, PAVE has played a vital role in many aspect of my experience studying interior design. Not only did they provide financial assistance, but also created opportunity to engage in design competitions and continue to serve as a great network for students.
d:r: How was the process for applying for financial assistance through PAVE?
White: The application process was very easy and was all online. I was able to fill out an online application, and submit transcripts, resume and recommendations easily.
d:r: How did the financial assistance help you with continuing your studies?
White: The financial assistance PAVE provided was an immense help in allowing me to spend an extra year in school to graduate with a degree in interior design. This assistance allowed me to focus fully on my design work and to worry less about the financial burden of college.
d:r: What field would you like to go into once you are finished with school?
White: I hope to work in a commercial design field through an architecture and design firm after graduation. As an interior design student I have always been interested in the way the built environment impacts occupants. Alongside design, I also study marketing, which has given me interest in branding, visual merchandising and in retail in general. I have really enjoyed working on retail design projects because they are a seamless blend of interior design, graphic design, and marketing techniques.
For more information about PAVE and the annual PAVE Gala, please visit



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