TIME FOR THE REAL WORLD: College graduates are getting ready for life after school



Playtime is over.

All across Pittsburgh and the country, young people are in jubilation as they finally graduated from college. But when the hugs, gifts, balloons, graduation parties and vacations cease, the recent graduates soon will realize that it’s time for the real world to begin.

That means applying for jobs, figuring out where to live, and purchasing the proper work attire.

Macy’s decided to step in on the “proper work attire” part. The company provided 40 Pittsburgh Promise students (the majority were 2023 college graduates) with $250 each to purchase job-ready clothes. It all occurred on May 17 at the Macy’s in Ross Park Mall.

The Pittsburgh Promise was created more than 15 years ago to invest in students in Pittsburgh Public Schools by providing scholarships for post-secondary institutions.

“We want to make sure that you are really well prepared for whatever your next step is going to be in life,” voiced Julie Shepard, senior manager of development and events for the Promise, to the students at Macy’s.

When Shepard asked how many of the students were college graduates or will be graduating in the next few years, everyone raised their hand. “You don’t know how happy that makes us,” Shepard said.

“Through our social purpose platform, Mission Every One, Macy’s is committed to empowering youth and the leaders of tomorrow, especially when it comes to owning your style,” said Sam Di Scipio, Macy’s Inc., senior director, social impact, in a statement. “We are thrilled to provide these deserving students with the outfits and confidence to succeed and help realize their full potential.”


As students shopped for clothes with $250 gift card in hand, they were assisted by a few celebrity stylists, Kiya Tomlin and Bill Generett. Tomlin is a well-known fashion designer, who owns Kiya Tomlin Workshop in Etna. Her husband is Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Generett is senior vice president for civic engagement and external relations at Duquesne University. Both have achieved considerable professional and personal success in their lives, and in addition to helping the students with wardrobe, they also chimed in with  some tips of how to succeed in life.

“Ask questions and let people know you have an interest (in a particular field),” Tomlin told the New Pittsburgh Courier as advice she would give young people. “For me, I was always worried about my business being perfect, yet I didn’t know how to do what it was I wanted to do. I spent so much time planning and researching but not taking actual steps, and it wasn’t until I just kind of, jumped in with no knowledge and started taking steps that people starting coming into my life that could give me hints of information that could take me to the next step.”

Tomlin was getting to know students like Nile Ross, a 2019 Pittsburgh CAPA graduate who just graduated from Temple University on May 11 with a degree in health professions. Ross told the Courier she was “really excited,” but also “a little nervous” about what lies ahead. She’ll soon be applying for jobs that have a dual focus in social media marketing and health, maybe with Highmark Health or other health provider.

Mya Lomax also went to Pittsburgh CAPA and Temple University, graduating the same days as Ross. She earned a bachelor’s in theater with an acting concentration. It takes true persistence to make it in the field of acting, but Lomax said she’s made for it. She told the Courier her friend from CAPA, DaMya Gurley, went from making skits on the social media platform Tik Tok to being seen by Tik Tok management itself. She played a role in the Tik Tok sketch comedy “Stapleview” and has played a role on the HBO series, “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”

Lomax’s mother, Juanita Lomax, said she stresses to her daughter to “really understand the image and character you want to present to people, and make sure that you’re displaying that in all areas of life.”


Some of the other recent college graduates helping themselves to professional attire were Donovan Schueler and Emoni Jones. Schueler, a City High graduate of 2017 and a recent Carlow University grad, wants to become a nurse. He purchased a black suit and white dress shirt at Macy’s.

“Very excited to start working and changing lives and making a difference,” Schueler told the Courier.

As for Jones, she is currently a tutor for AmeriCorps. She earned her master’s in community psychology in 2022, a B.A. in psychology in 2021 from Point Park, and graduated from Pittsburgh Obama in 2017. She said right now she’s “playing it safe,” but knows she’s got to get out there and applying for the jobs with the hefty paychecks. “Maybe I could work at a college in academic success or student success,” she said. “I’m kind of nervous to get a big girl job, but I just gotta do it.”





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