Tiffany Birch “Everybody should take the Human Development class. It teaches you study skills, how to use college, and how get the most out of the whole system.”

When the ‘Tiffany Collection’ of evening wear has its Paris debut, CEO and chief designer Tiffany Birch may surprise the fashion world: Her commentary may well be delivered in Japanese. “I have an endless fascination with the culture and language of Japan, and my teacher, Ms. Yoshida, is excellent,” she reports. “What I love about the Japanese is how they’ve integrated so many other cultures and somehow made them their own. And as a matter of fact, my mom plans on sending me to Japan—as a reward—after I finish my second year of college. But I have a lot of work to do,” she admits with a laugh, “before I’m ready to even order from a Japanese menu.” But before she flies off to the Ginza Strip in Tokyo, Tiffany is already getting an immersion in things Japanese at SMC.

“My Study Skills class has a lot of Japanese students in it, and they really help me to learn about their history and culture,” says Tiffany. But history and culture are also important elements of what she studies in Fashion Design at SMC. “I’m learning theater costuming and the entire history of fashion,” she says with enthusiasm. “There’s a lot more to fashion than what you see on the runways. We’ve actually been learning how royal families and religions have influenced styles of dress down through the ages. And my teacher, Ms. Fontana, knows her work and her art. She puts real passion into the classroom.”

But putting passion for fashion aside, Tiffany offers some very practical advice for getting the most out of the SMC experience. “The computer labs and the library are easily accessible and excellent. And my teachers have been the best resource,” she adds. “They’ve all made me comfortable about saying the words: ‘I don’t know.’”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.