Student Signs Major Modeling Contact After Homecoming Photo Goes Viral

“At first, I honestly thought someone made a meme of me or something.”

Sometimes a candid photo can lead to a great new profile picture, maybe some double-digit likes, or even a framed gift for a friend. But for Plymouth State University student Anok Yai, it led to a modeling contract. 

The 19-year-old was enjoying the festivities at Howard University's homecoming in Washington D.C. when street style photographer Steven Hall snapped her photo. After Hall shared the picture on his Instagram account @TheSUNK, it quickly went viral with the caption,"Saw her right at the end of Yardfest. Stunning @anokyai." 

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The post left followers in awe, and helped push Yai towards her dream of becoming a model.

Yai had no idea how much the Instagram post would change her life. The sophomore student told Boston Globe that she thought it would only lead to a few more followers.

"My phone just started vibrating rapidly for a long, long time," Yai said, thinking back to the moment she realized her photo had gone viral. "At first, I honestly thought someone made a meme of me or something." (A valid fear in 2017.)

The Sudanese student, who moved to Manchester, New Hampshire from Egypt in 2000,  is currently studying biochemistry but says she has always dreamed of becoming a fashion model. "It was a dream that I always wanted, but I wasn't sure if it was going to happen," she said.

After receiving offers from several modeling agencies, Yai has now signed to Next Models. "Anok has something very special," Kyle Hagler, President of Next Models told Vogue. "She's not only beautiful, but she's intelligent and has a real understanding of community."

Yai admits that she initially didn't see the big deal about her photo. "At first, I questioned what everyone was seeing because I didn't really see it," she said. "Honestly, I think that people get so used to seeing themselves that people don't see their own beauty because they see it everyday."

Hall has also received praise for capturing the fateful moment. In his latest post, the photographer shared short video of Yai and added the caption: "Have you ever had a future star look at you? Shooting Anok in her quiet town of New Hampshire, her first shoot had to be here. Meeting Anok on the Yard during homecoming was serendipitous, literally one of the last faces l saw after being there for 5 hrs. That day has changed both of our paths and she's inspired me."

Yai is truly an inspiration indeed, not only for being a real-life testament of dreams coming true, but also for her educational values. In her interview with Vogue, the biochem major said, "I definitely want girls to be looking into those [STEM] programs. Women aren't always raised to be as great as they can possibly be. They're told to care about more how they look and be extremely feminine. [As a result,] science, math, and technology are still considered male jobs."

(H/T: Mirror)

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