ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Michael Burroughs, 19, of St. Louis says wearing a tie can make a palpable difference in one’s bearing and attitude.
“It’s the way you conduct yourself and you carry yourself,” Burroughs explains. “When you have a nice tie on and somebody compliments you on that tie, you’re like ‘Man, I actually went all out.'”
That’s exactly the kind of feeling Harris Stowe University president Dwaun Warmack was hoping to bestow when he launched the “Ties & Bow Ties with the President” program shortly after taking office last year.
“A large percentage of our students are first generation college students,” he explains. “A lot of them have no fathers in the home, and so we can’t say we want you to graduate from college, go for an interview and dress a certain way if they don’t know how.”
Now in its third iteration, the program has expanded from a handful of Harris Stowe students to more than 150 participants and has been extended to include those who are not attending Harris Stowe.
“I teach them how to tie bow ties first, and then we teach them how to tie ties,” says Warmack, who’s known for his fondness for bow ties. “What I’m trying to do is educate them holistically. Students spend 18 to 22 percent of their time in the classroom, so if they’re not getting a holistic experience outside of class, then they’re missing the boat.”
It’s working for participants like 19-year-old Michael Harmon of East St. Louis, who attended a previous session with Dr. Warmack.
“It was a great experience for me because I learned how to tie a tie,” Harmon says. “I never did learn how when I was younger. It helps me to be a better man, helped me to dress more professionally.”
President Warmack’s influence is being felt campus-wide, as he’s instituted a “somewhat mandatory” program encouraging young male students to dress up every Wednesday.
“It’s called ‘Dress for Success Wednesdays,'” he explains. “So you’ll see the young males dressed up on Wednesdays, to prepare for the job that they want, not the job that they have.”
It’s been a life-changing lesson for Michael Burroughs.
“When you’re professionally dressed and that’s the way you carry yourself, people are like ‘Okay, he’s about his business,'” he says. “‘He wants to take care of certain things and handle certain situations.'”
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