A teen from Pasco County, Florida, just won a $10,000 cash scholarship after spending over 100 hours making a gown out of a seemingly impossible material-duct tape.
Grace Vaughn won first place in the dress category for Duck brand’s yearly Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest.
Inspired by the Yin and Yang theory, which represents balance in one’s routine, the 17-year-old Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School rising senior’s work was chosen as the best among over 100 entries in the competition.
She was awarded scholarship money, which will help fund her dream of studying fashion and design at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
Grace was in North Carolina for a running camp when she got an email with the good news. Upon seeing the word “congratulations,” she knew it was the announcement she had been waiting for.
But the teen had to keep it to herself for a few hours until it was officially declared by Duck brand later that day.
This is Grace’s second year of joining the contest. Last year, she also made a dress and submitted it. Although she didn’t win, she enjoyed the entire process, so she decided to participate again this year.
She started by sketching out different designs.
“I started making the dress, and my dress and idea completely shifted,” she recalled. “Sometimes that’s how the creative process works. It just completely changes and definitely in a good way.”
Ashley Luke, the senior product manager at Shurtape Technologies, LLC, the company that markets the Duck brand, said in a statement:
“Each of our contestants had a special story to tell this year, from hoping to empower others with their designs to pushing their artistic abilities to the limit, and they should all be very proud of their Duck Tape® looks.”
For Grace, the reward isn’t simply a cash prize—it’s a significant first step into her dream career.
“I was super excited because I knew that it was kind of the first step into my fashion career,” she said.
Grace has dreamed of going to SCAD since she was a high school freshman. A recruiter from the institution came to her school and showed them pamphlets of designs and creations from students and the campus.
She even got the chance to visit the college in the summer of 2021.
“I loved how the campus was really in tune with the city of Savannah. It was everything I would hope it would be,” she said.
The $10,000 scholarship money would be an immense help in covering the costs of her fashion education.
“It definitely means a lot because I want to go into fashion, and getting some money for the school that I want to go to really helps out,” she said.
Plus, one of her designs getting recognized feels really good.
“I think I’m pretty shocked that people like it this much,” Grace said.
Grace’s mom, Krissy Vaughn, is thrilled to see her daughter’s hard work pay off. She was there to witness the dress come to life after 45 rolls of duct tape and 143 hours spent completing the 13-pound floor-length ball gown.
“As I watched her work on it in the family room, I really had no idea what was going to happen because she just works meticulously and focused,” she said. “I was pretty blown away that it came out to look like that.”
Aside from the financial benefits, the scholarship will also give Grace’s resume a boost when she applies to fashion school.
The proud mom is excited to see more people recognize Grace’s talent and creativity.
“We see it all the time, but it’s hard to have everyone else see that,” she said. “We’re very proud of her, and we know she’ll be doing great things. It is just a matter of watching it all unfold.”