Teacher feature: Jennifer Craven

This fall, Mercyhurst College alumni Jennifer Craven joined the faculty of the fashion merchandising department.

As a first-year instructor, Craven enjoys working at the college where she once studied.

“Mercyhurst likes to keep their alumni close,” Craven said. “We relate to the students well because we have been through everything they’re experiencing now.”

Craven grew up in Meadville. She earned her bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising at Mercyhurst, and she earned a master’s in textiles and apparel from North Carolina State University.

To explain her degree, she describes textiles as the way fabrics are made from fibers and apparel as the way garments are made from fabric.

Craven has enjoyed fashion since childhood but developed her current fascination with textiles while in college.

“I just always loved clothes, shopping, and dressing up,” she said. “When I was a student, I got interested in things like, what makes cotton different from polyester?”

Craven currently teaches Introduction to Fashion for freshmen students. She will also teach classes on textiles, which will focus on the study of fabrics, illustration, which will allow students to design clothing on the computer program CADD; and sewing, allowing students to make their own clothing.

To any student interested in fashion merchandising, Craven said, “It’s not a design program, but you’re learning about how the industry works.”

The fashion merchandising program has only one sketching course titled Basic Design.

Craven points out that everyone wears clothes, so there is a field for people interested in making those clothes.

“It’s still my first term, so I’m still learning,” she said.

She often interacts with older faculty and also connects with the other 12 new faculty members who joined the Mercyhurst community this fall in periodic meetings.

Despite being new to the job, Craven has already learned how to structure a class around a lecture followed by discussion. Her other classes will include more hands-on activities, such as passing around samples of fabric in her textiles course.

Outside of the classroom, Craven works with other faculty on the fashion newsletter and helps the fashion club, which regularly invites guest speakers to the college.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, sewing and visiting friends and family.