MILWAUKEE — Marquette University graduate student Mayra Alaniz said she knows what it’s like to need some extra help. 

Alaniz’s parents immigrated from Mexico. Growing up, she said they didn’t have a lot of money. Now pursuing an MBA, Alaniz is the first in her family to go to college. 

“Being a first-generation was a sense of pride for me when I first got into college, but there’s a sense of challenge because it’s something my parents have never done before,” she said.

During her freshman year, she landed her first internship, working in the office of former mayor Tom Barrett. Her excitement quickly turned to worry because she said she didn’t have any professional clothing to wear to the office.

“I just didn’t want to inconvenience my parents asking them to take me to the store and buy clothes that I knew were going to be pricey,” Alaniz said.

Slowly, she built up a professional wardrobe. Her first item was a blazer. 

“It was very powerful for me to not just have a blazer, but to put it on,” Alaniz said. “It makes you feel like you’re on to something exciting in your life.”

Alaniz said she didn’t want any other low-income students to struggle like she did. She said she wanted them to feel confident pursuing a job or an internship.

That’s why she created the Career Closet at Marquette University, a donation-based clothing drive. At the closet, Students drop off their unwanted professional clothing items for their classmates who might need them.

“These could be the clothes that someone wears when they’re trying to get a job,” Alaniz said.

Alaniz said she has collected more than 50 bags of clothes so far from donation boxes across campus. She said she hopes these clothes give students the confidence and courage to never give up on their dreams.

“To continue their journey, to walk into an interview more confidently and to continue to pursue their dreams in the future,” she added.

Alaniz is holding a pop-up event on March 5, 2023 for students to browse through clothing at the Career Closet. There is a permanent location at the 707 HUB on campus for people to donate.

Alaniz’s initiative even caught the attention of the Milwaukee Brewers. They held their own professional clothing drive and donated those items to the Career Closet. ​