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Prom dreams come true for boro teens after mall makeover

By Ivan Pereira

More than a dozen needy teens from around the borough had their wishes to look great at their high school prom granted this weekend and all they had to do was express themselves creatively.

Queens Center Mall gave seven boys and seven girls a free fashion makeover for their big dance through a contest that involved some of its top clothing and boutique stores. The mall’s “Get Prom-ed” contest awarded more than $4,800 in combined goods to the students who wrote the best essays on why the prom means so much to them.

Dawn Simon, the senior marketing manager for the mall who helped create the promotion, said the prom is an important part of a high schooler’s experience, but finances have made it a burden for parents.

“When you total the tuxedo and the flowers and the limo, it’s almost like a mini wedding,” she said.

Several of the mall’s stores, including Social Apparel, Markens Jewelers, Maestro and Quails opened their doors and provided the winners with free dresses, jewelry and suits. The girls were also given a free hair consultation from Natural Look Aveda Salon.

Most of the teens had financial problems that prevented them from affording lavish dresses or formal suits and all of the applicants wrote about those hardships in their essays, according to Simon.

Yennisell Guzman, 17, of Jamaica, said her mother is unemployed and she wanted to help her out. Guzman, who attends Hillcrest High School, said going to her high school prom has been a dream of hers since she was a little girl.

“I want to do the whole princess thing with the tiara,” she said as she looked at various dresses with her mom.

Rajia Inam, 17, of Ozone Park, said he was creative in his essay and stressed how he was looking forward to his prom because it would be the last of many fond memories he shared with friends at Brooklyn Technical High School.

“Because of costs, I couldn’t go to a lot of school events and the prom is the last one,” he said.

The store owners said they were happy to take part in the contest.

“I understand the prom and how stressful it can be for parents,” said Joon Kim, the owner of Social Apparel. “This helps them out a lot.”

Simon said that because of state finance limitations on prizes, only 14 students were picked for this year’s contest, but she said she hopes to provide this service for more high schoolers in the future.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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