By Valerie Lay
It is 3am at the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM). Yet it is no surprise to see Assistant Professor Galina Mihaleva in the tutorial room sewing dresses.
The 53-year-old is helping her students with their submission pieces for Technology in Art and Fashion, an elective she teaches.
She does it with a smile.
“I think I get more excited than my students,” Asst Prof Mihaleva says. “Sometimes I don’t realise it’s already so late!”
Apart from teaching, the Bulgarian also owns a couture label and works on pieces for internationally renowned competitions. Last October, she clinched the top prize at Tiffany’s Fashion Week, an annual fashion design competition in Paris featuring the industry’s best.
She spent two months working on her dresses, which were all entirely handmade.
“I didn’t move or react when they said it. I could not believe that I actually won,” she recalls. “The other participants were really good.”
Asst Prof Mihaleva attributes her success to NTU, pointing out that she was only able to participate through the school’s funding.
When she realised that the judges at the fashion week did not know this, she felt “embarrassed” and made a point of telling them about the university personally.
The heartfelt act is unsurprising for her students.
As many of them can attest, Asst Prof Mihaleva makes sure that her students are not left struggling on their own, even when she is busy with competitions.
“Although she wasn’t done with her dresses for a fashion competition in Paris, she still stayed up with me till 6am to help me with my work,” said second-year ADM student Ong Xin Hong, 20.
Fellow second-year ADM student Gladys Loh, 20, noted that Asst Prof Mihaleva goes the extra mile to get to know her students better.
This includes making Milo for students during classes and even asking them out for dinner.
“She’s a professor who focuses on building a personal bond with her students,” said Loh. “And we truly appreciate that.”