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OPINION: Being a full-time student and a model is all fun and games until you sleep through class

On April 18, 2018, I signed my first contract with a modeling agency, Click Models of Atlanta. As a 16-year-old, I did not know a thing about modeling and the modeling world. However, I was all too familiar with the bad reputation that followed.

While rewarding, the industry often took up much of my free time; because of expectations to attend castings, have frequent photoshoots, and constantly upkeep your appearance, the industry can be physically and emotionally demanding.

If I had a better understanding of this, I might have stayed away; regardless, my aspirations of wanting to go to college and continue being a student drove me forward.

I definitely did not want the industry to go to my head. When I signed the contract, I made a promise to myself that everything I made would be saved or reinvested into education-related things. This may have been my saving grace for why I kept my head and for why I am still a decent model and a successful student five years later.

I soon realized that stereotypes follow in the footsteps of models. In high school, I would always hear about how young I was and how much potential I had. When I went to college, it would surprise people that I was a full-time student. I was not expected to be someone who attends a private four-year university or someone with a double major in political science and global development and an extensive professional and academic resume.

Much of what I received were looks of skeptical amusement; people were impressed but seemed to silently doubt my abilities, believing I did not have any aspirations other than to look pretty for a camera.

As a model who is also involved in politics, I am used to being underestimated.

No one expects me to name-drop that I have been in "Dynasty" and "Creed" or that I have walked for Oscar de la Renta and Jason Wu. For me, it is just a part of my life; for my peers on campus, it's not as casual. It becomes a whole conversation because everyone is intrigued by these big names.

Nonetheless, modeling has been a blast. At times, however, it often takes its place on the back burner because of my academic workload and location. In high school, my dad would tell me not to skip school if I got a modeling job; I would anyway if I really desired the gig.

With dual enrollment and an unconventional schedule, this flexibility provided with me an ample amount of free time to easily take on more jobs and avoid missing classes.

I spent my 17th birthday at a bridal shop getting photographed in Alexandra Grecco gowns. Fortunately, this gig was dad-approved for me to skip. It was my birthday, was he really going to say no?

During the Covid-19 pandemic, I was operating my freshman year of college completely virtual, which allowed me to take any job. I did the occasional photoshoots but I also got to get into TV, working on the set of the CW’s "Dynasty" for a couple of days in 2021.

Now that I am on Mercer’s campus in Macon, far from where my jobs typically are located (Atlanta and Nashville), I end up passing on the majority of gigs that get sent my way. When I can, I fit modeling into my schedule to the best of my abilities.

Sometimes, modeling requires me to stop everything and take some quick images. Just recently I received a call from an agent who needed me to send updated digitals. Digitals are basic photos of wearing neutral or black clothing that is meant to show your figure and your face clearly for a client. You are instructed not to wear any makeup and to get images from several angles: from the front, side, close-ups and full-length. You also typically need to take some in the well-known "model face," which also translates to an RBF, and some with a smile.

I did what any sane model living on a college campus would do and enlisted anyone I could to help me. I called my roommate who helped me not only scout a location but acted as my impromptu photographer. If you saw us in front of the Willet Science Center taking said photos—no you did not.

Of course, it did not end there; later, I had to take more pictures and ended up in the parking lot of phase 5 for more digitals. After being let in and enlisting someone to be my photographer, the shoot was complete. Yes, this all occurred in the middle of a Monday afternoon between classes.

Recently, I took a live modeling job in Nashville. It was a unique job and on a Sunday, which would be perfect to avoid missing school. Or so I thought. I made the trip in one day, getting back to campus around 4 A.M. Miraculously, I made it to my class at 9 A.M. but fell back asleep afterward. As for the rest of my classes, I may have slept through them.

Balancing being a full-time student and a model can be exhausting. However, modeling continues to surprise me, letting me be creative and blend my aspirations together. When I planned a photoshoot outside of the Georgia State Capitol to capture my identity as a woman in politics, I felt beautifully powerful.

For me, it works because modeling has solely ever been a hobby for me. Yet, this can cause some tension between my job and my commitment to the industry when I do not always give it my all. These are not separate entities in my life, but I work to establish a balance between something I love and continue to work towards.

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