Profile: Caroline Kobia
For Caroline Kobia, sewing has always been something she has truly enjoyed, from the design of new garments to their construction and from the feel of fabrics to the limitless possibilities of fashion.
But her true calling is teaching, Kobia said. She loves passing these skill sets on to her students in the Apparel, Textiles and Merchandising program in MSU's School of Human Sciences.
"I love to teach. I feel very rewarded when I see my students blossom and fulfill their purpose as I do mine," she said. The ATM program is designed to provide students with an understanding of the apparel and textile industries, consumer behavior, product knowledge and business principles. Kobia said fashion is a multi-billion-dollar industry that extends beyond clothing, and the job market is wide open for graduates.
A native of Kenya, Kobia loved to study home economics and technology in high school, and she pursued two degrees in Kenya before her husband earned a scholarship to study in the U.S.
While her husband completed studies at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., Kobia enrolled in a master's program at Louisiana State University. Now, she is nearing completion of a doctoral degree from LSU as well.
She came to MSU as an instructor in 2012, and she said the Starkville community and MSU campus feel like home, in part because the people are so friendly. Her time is very busy—in addition to being a doctoral student and a full-time instructor, Kobia also is the mother of two young boys, ages 8 and 3.
Kobia said working with colleagues in the School of Human Sciences is a very positive experience because of good people and wonderful leadership. She said the program is going beyond teaching to meet the needs of students by adapting curriculum in order to prepare for a changing and increasingly global industry.
Students learn about everything from fibers grown for the clothing industry to the technologies utilized in product development. She explained also that her research focus is on social media as every industry is looking at the new platform for business. The challenge of learning new technologies is never ending.
"That's why I love teaching—it's constant learning," she said.
Kobia said she herself is an example of globalization. She said whereas western cultures were at one time the primary influence of fashion, the industry now is getting ideas and inspiration from everywhere. Professionals have to understand and appreciate the value of cultural diversity.
"It's exciting, and there's a lot of energy in the program," she said. "If I can inspire students to find their passions and just impact them in some way, then my work is done. It gives me a lot of joy when that happens."Writer: Allison Matthews | Photo: Russ Houston
Next week … Bailey Owens & William Poindexter !