Suits U Dresses Students for Success

Felician University is providing professional attire to students in need for interviews and internships.

In 2019, Felician University commissioned a study to determine unmet needs of their students. The findings were shocking. A significant number of students reported being food and housing insecure. Students were investing in a college education for a better future, and in doing so, were giving up daily meals or a place to sleep.

As the Director of the Blessed Mary Angela Institute for Contemplation, Action and Transformation at the time, Sister Annelle Velivis knew she had to help. The reality that college students worried about where their next meal was coming from or where they would sleep on that night led to another question; how could they interview for a job without the means to afford professional clothes?

Sr. Annelle turned to Mike Omansky from the Felician University School of Business and Information Science. He worked with his students to create business plans to launch an on-campus store offering professional clothing and accessories to students – they called it: Suits U.

“It was important to maintain the dignity of the students who were in need, so we chose the business plan in which students could perform community service hours in exchange for clothing. Students choose to volunteer at local hospitals, churches and urban ministries. It gave the students an opportunity to earn the clothing and to help others in the process.”

Sr. Annelle

Daquan Pullum, a graduate assistant at the time, was brought on as the first manager. “Daquan went to work with bags of donated clothing to create a boutique-like store,” Sr. Annelle recalled. “He put so much thought into the dressing rooms, mannequins and organizing items so perfectly. He gave the student shoppers style ideas to instill them with confidence.”

To minimize expenses, students volunteer and inventory is donated from the community university staff. “Ridgewood Moving Services, a local company, partnered with us immediately,” Sr. Annelle said. “They told me that it’s amazing how much people leave behind when they move.”

One student proudly shared with Sr. Annelle, “Will you take a look at me? This is the first suit I’ve ever had, and I never knew how to tie a tie, but Professor Mike helped me.”

Since it opened, Suits U has helped hundreds of students dress for the successful careers ahead of them despite their lack of funds. The university will also soon open a food pantry to address the issue of food insecurity.

Sr. Annelle said, “Mother Angela’s life was all about service to the poor. We found that the poor can be disguised in the form of a college student, and we will continue to find ways to serve them.”

Felician University is a ministry of the Felician Sisters of North America (FSNA) located in Lodi, New Jersey. Learn more here.

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Serving where needed since 1874

Founded in Poland in 1855, the Felician Sisters are a congregation of women religious inspired by the spiritual ideals of their foundress, Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, and Saints Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi and Felix of Cantalice. Arriving in North America in 1874 following Blessed Mary Angela’s directive “to serve where needed,” they helped to weave the social service system. Today, the Felician Sisters founded, sponsor or support through the presence of our sisters, more than 40 ministries – all continuing to evolve to meet the needs of the people they serve.

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  • Felician Sisters of North America is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.
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Felician Sisters of North America