Outstanding first-generation grad works to sharpen his design craft on his way to graduation

Design and merchandising student Giovonni Carter, the first of his family to receive a high school diploma in 2016, will also be the first of his family to secure a college degree on May 17.

Born and raised in Denver, Carter arrived at Colorado State University at the age of 17, determined to design his own path. Rarely do college students know exactly what they desire for their futures; however, Carter has always been one to stand out, striving beyond constricting boundaries and expectations.Outstanding grad Giovonni Carter portrait.

“I knew I wanted to come to CSU from day one because of the apparel design program,” Carter said. “I was also granted scholarships to attend this University, which I’m grateful for.”

Carter is the recipient of the National Honors Society of Collegiate Scholars Scholarship, as well as multiple scholarships from Fashion Group International to aid in funding his three-year attendance at CSU. Although he has experienced great success as a student majoring in apparel and merchandising in the Department of Design and Merchandising, Carter’s crusade to commencement was not necessarily optimal every step of the way.

The learning curve

“Being a first generation high school grad and soon to be college graduate, I would say things have not always been easy financially,” Carter said. “On top of that, the process and steps required to graduate from high school, apply to college, apply for scholarships, pay for tuition, and all of the above are things I had to learn on my own.”

Though Carter’s parents supported him and continue to do so in all that he does, they were learning just as much as he was through his higher-education journey.

Carter’s supplementary support came in the form of his instructors and professors in the apparel design and production concentration. Upon recognition of his abilities, Carter’s mentors helped him hone in his creative craft.

“I couldn’t ask for better professors, they have been extremely supportive of me and how I express myself through my work,” Carter said. “They have been a great help in the process of applying for internships, scholarships, and maintaining a GPA above 3.0 – there’s a real passion that the teachers have for what they do, and they take time to get to know students that share a love and passion for the industry.”

1 in 4 CSU students is First Generation. Read about Colorado State University’s mission – First Generation University Initiative.

‘Spectrum,’ ‘Xposure’ and beyond

Much of Carter’s involvement at the University has been courtesy of his department, where he feels most at home on campus. He displayed his work in the 2018 CSU Fashion Show “Spectrum” as a junior draping design student, and unveiled his first full senior collection in the 2019 CSU Fashion Show, “Xposure.”

Carter dedicates the majority of his free time to sharpening his artistry. Often found in the sewing studio in the Gifford Building, which he genially refers to as “the lab,” Carter is beginning to see the fruits of his labor as his dreams of designing high-end streetwear gradually come to fruition.

“Here at CSU, I’ve enjoyed all of my time with my friends, of course, learning from the faculty here, but most of my time is spent in the sewing studio,” Carter said. “It may sound corny, but I have spent countless days and nights of blood, sweat, and tears designing, sewing, innovating, and crafting for my classes, and for my personal brand.”

Following graduation, Carter hopes to secure an internship this fall with Calvin Klein, Alexander Wang, OFF-WHITE, RHUDE, or Fear of God in either New York City or Los Angeles. He seeks to learn from some of the modern pioneers of fashion to one day blaze a trail of his own in the industry.

In the future, we’ll look forward to seeing Carter’s eponymous high-end streetwear line, Giovonni, grace the runways of fashion weeks across the nation.