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Making it through my college graduation without shedding a single tear- that was easy. My first two weeks in NYC, not so much. After graduation, threats that “the best four years of life were over” barely fazed me. This was a beginning, not an end! Cut to two weeks later: suitcase in my hand, monstrous skyscrapers looming above me, taxis zipping by…and a massive lump in my throat. I was terrified. Before I could take in my new home, atop a five-story walk-up, I did what any self-respecting grown-up does in a moment of crisis: I made like E.T. and phoned home. My mom answered. She calmed me down, and reminded me why I moved to the city. It was to start an adventure and write my story. Little did I know, one of the most meaningful parts of my post-grad story would be with a jewelry company.

Moving to NYC to start a modeling career was not easy. I had to adopt a “seize all opportunities” mentality. My first introduction to Shiffon was pure serendipity. I was running into Ruby’s Café in Nolita to make a reservation. Wind blown, out of breath, I saw a friend of mine standing with a group of women who also went to Harvard. The “hey, how are yous” flew back and forth, but I was struck by how down-to-earth this #girlgang was. They asked me if I’d be interested in modeling for their jewelry start-up. Flattered, I said yes, not really knowing what this would entail. What this led to was something much greater than I had envisioned. These women became my friends. And, just as the Shiffon mission endorses women supporting women, they have been so supportive through my journey.

Models are for the most part, spectacles. Magazines and Instagram serve as platforms. Perfectly “curated” images have impact on young girls. My mission is to be a part of that influence in a positive, meaningful and real way. In my early modeling career, I’ve met many strong and successful women. These extraordinary ladies were willing to let me stand on their shoulders to achieve my dreams of success while we collectively took a stance on sexism. My Shiffon #girlgang is an integral piece in that circular staircase to achievement. These women are examples, and that’s what I aspire to be in the modeling world.

I’ve been asked by several agencies, “You graduated from Harvard, why would want to start modeling now?” I’m 23—young to embark on life adventures but old for starting a modeling career. I see why they wondered. Then I think back to the first time I was scouted. I was 14-years-old, in the thick of an awkward growth spurt and didn’t have the accomplishments or sense of self I have now. I didn’t want to get involved in the industry at that age. Had I grown up with the notion that my appearance was my worth, it would have been much harder to face rejection. At 23, I have a better head on my shoulders. Rejection doesn’t define me, because I have a truer sense of who I am. My worth is my mind, values and relationships. I trust this older version of myself to set an example and to be a leader of a greater #girlgang.