While participating in Philadelphia Fashion Week would appear to be the highlight of one's college semester, Philadelphia University senior, Alicia Pinckney, had more to offer to the fashion world in the weeks to come.

A few months ago, an email was sent to Philadelphia University's fashion students about an opportunity to be one out of ten student designers to represent their region in a 24-hour fashion show in South Beach, Miami. At first, Pinckney ignored the email thinking there was no way she could win. A week after the initial email was sent, Nyoka Wyatt, an advisor from Black Retail Action Group, encouraged her to apply, so she did.

Contestants were required to submit two samples of their work along with the vision behind it to Cotton University, an online resource for design students operated by Cotton, Inc. Each student would then have an opportunity to showcase one design from his or her line. Winners would go on to share the stage with Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, Forever 21 and more.

A few weeks later, the West Philly native received an email stating that she was selected.

As Pinckney planned her one design, she then received a follow-up email stating that one of the other student winners did not fulfill the requirements to participate in the show and asked if she could submit two garments instead of one.

If that wasn't enough of a surprise, she later learned that she was the only student designer to have a menswear collection displayed. Looking through her new 1890s Vintage Work Wear Collection, Pinckney selected two of her favorite menswear looks and patiently waited for her trip.

One of nine students to participate 

This past weekend, the nine students, including Pinckney, went on an all expenses-paid trip to Miami to participate in the show. In addition to airfare, hotel, dining and transportation, participants also received a $500 American Express gift card.

Upon arrival, Pinckney was greeted with duffel bags full of Cotton, Inc. products and giveaways. She and the other winners enjoyed a meet-and-greet with celebrities and other designers from across the country before the 24-hour show took place.

With a new design being presented every minute, over 1,440 looks were shown. In its second year of existence, this was the first time that student designers were able to compete in order to participate.

Trip of a lifetime 

At the end of the weekend, Pinckney boarded a plane back to Philly in awe of what she calls an experience of a lifetime.

"This experience was more than I could ask for," she said. "This was such an eye-opener for what I hope to do when I graduate."

At 22, Pinckney's clothing has been featured in several fashion shows and blog sites. She has created an entire menswear collection, interned with Calvin Klein and currently interns with Commonwealth Proper, an exclusive menswear shop in Center City.

She has also taken on the challenge to design her older sister's wedding gown. "We spent most of my winter break doing fittings and going to New York for fabrics," she said. "I am excited to be able to say that I made my sister's wedding gown."

Pinckney is currently working on her second menswear line and hopes to work for a menswear company after she graduates.