“Why are you both dressed in blue jeans and white t-shirts? Wait, are you guys wearing heels?” My roommates looked at me and nodded. “We are going to tryout to model in a fashion show, and we are leaving in two minutes. You should come!” they replied. I looked down at what I was wearing. I already had on a white t-shirt. “Why not?” I thought to myself. Without thinking, I quickly changed into blue jeans and grabbed my only pair of heels.
My name is Carol Yacoub. I am a third year at UVA studying Psychology on the Pre-Dental track. I had never been inside Runk Green Room before my tryout for Fashion for a Cause (FFC). I was quickly greeted by strangers dressed in all black who gave me a form and told me to answer the questions as honestly as I could. I still wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, until I walked into the audition room alone, holding my paper form and facing a panel of six individuals. They were wearing all black and sunglasses. You could say I was a bit intimidated. One of the questions they asked me regarded the “unique talent” I had written on my form: belly dancing. “Can you belly dance for us, please?” Usually I would have laughed and walked away from a situation like this, but something kept me standing in front of them. The next thing I knew, I had them listening to my favorite Arabic song while they watched me dance. Just when I thought I could not be any more mortified, they asked me to do my best “model walk” to the end of the room. I was a bit nervous, considering that I had never model-walked in my life, but for some reason they liked me. My entire fall semester of my second year consisted of attending fashion show practices, getting fitted for the show, and learning how to act and dance. The theme for our fashion show was Cirque Du Soleil. Go ahead and laugh at my hair and make-up, but I looked Tyra Banks fierce.
I had always put in extensive amount of time in my schoolwork but I had never invested so much time in an extracurricular activity in college. After the fashion show, I found myself surrounded by twenty-five new friends and a greater sense of purpose. All of the money raised from the fashion show went to college scholarships for high school students. As a member of FFC, I was required to participate in service even after the show was over. FFC is just one of the thousand extremely special activities that students can get involved in at UVA. We call these student clubs and organizations CIOs, which stands for Contracted Independent Organizations. Each year we hold a Fall Student Activities Fair and each CIO sets up a display, trying to entice new students to come sign up for their club. Any student can use this Fair as an opportunity to sign up for any or all activities, whether they are artistically, athletically, academically, or service minded.
My advice would be to go to this Student Activities Fair each fall and go crazy. Talk to different people and see what UVA has to offer. Even if you go and you aren’t immediately attracted to an organization, leave the door open for potential opportunities later on. If I had been closed minded when my friends asked me to tryout for FFC, I may have missed a chance at amazing friends, gaining confidence, and serving those around me. And you can find that with any activity that you are passionate about. You just have to find it! Basically, at that Student Activities Fair, don’t be afraid to find your inner model. Strut like you mean it.