Outstanding grad finds her passion in design and merchandising

Story by Kristin Breakell

Daniele Croteau has found a great amount of success throughout her career at CSU – culminating in her being recognized with one of Colorado State University’s most prestigious awards, the Albert C. Yates Student Leadership Award, given by the Alumni Association. On Friday, she will give the student address at the College of Health and Human Sciences Fall 2016 commencement ceremony. However, her journey has not always been easy.

Croteau was born and raised in Fort Collins and decided to attend CSU because of its unique campus and culture as well as the fact that her father and sister attended the university. Her first year at CSU brought many challenges. Her decision to pursue a degree in mathematics led to feelings of uncertainty as she quickly realized that math was not a major that she was passionate about. At the same time, her parents moved out of the state, causing her and her sister to move back into their childhood home and take care of both the house and their dog.

This new independence and uncertainty regarding her major forced her to reevaluate her academic path. After joining the Fashion Group International student organization, Croteau realized her skills and interests fit perfectly with the apparel and merchandising major in the Department of Design and Merchandising and decided to pursue a career related to the apparel industry.

After making this important decision, Croteau began to excel. She became heavily involved in the department and various student organizations. She was president of Fashion Group International for two years and participated in campus events such as CSUnity and Fall Clean Up. Croteau demonstrated leadership in organizing two Recycled Fashion Shows and acting as show director for Ptero-Couture: Fashion in the Age of Dinosaurs, a fashion show developed in collaboration with the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Croteau worked as a liaison between the department and the museum in planning a successful show.

Croteau has been a strong emissary for the university in each of her extracurricular endeavors. Her work as an intern for Dillard’s has opened doors for the department to meet with Dillard’s top management in building industry relations that have generated a new buying internship program at the western regional office in Arizona. As a representative of the department, her excellence has stimulated opportunities for future students to gain experience with Dillard’s. She has also worked in management positions at several local clothing retailers, connecting the university to members of the Fort Collins fashion community.

Despite her busy schedule, Croteau has maintained excellent academic performance throughout her time at CSU. She received the Green and Gold Scholarship and the Honors Scholarship for each of the past three years. Croteau was selected by faculty at universities across the globe in the field of design and merchandising to give an undergraduate research presentation at the International Textiles and Apparel Association Conference in November. Not only did she receive the Yates Award for 2016, but she was also selected as the Outstanding Senior for the Department of Design and Merchandising and was nominated for the Outstanding Senior Award in the College of Health and Human Sciences.

Croteau holds a 3.98 GPA and has earned high praise from several Design and Merchandising faculty members. Karen Hyllegard, a professor in the department, praises her as an exceptional student and leader. “What her academic record does not reveal is the full extent of Daniele’s character and leadership. She consistently demonstrates a high level of maturity, enthusiasm, cooperation and responsibility,” she said.

Croteau credits much of her success to CSU’s nationally ranked Design and Merchandising program. “The DM program showed me what was possible in the fashion industry and it has continued to inspire me,” she said. “Each class has provided insight into different aspects of the industry. Dr. Ruoh-Nan Yan and Dr. Karen Hyllegard have been especially helpful in my time at CSU, guiding me through my Honors Program thesis and giving me the support and confidence I need to pursue my dreams.”

Croteau will be graduating this Friday with a degree in apparel and merchandising and a double minor in mathematics and business administration. After graduation, Croteau will spend a few weeks with her parents in Michigan before moving to New York City to pursue a career in the fashion industry.