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A Model Student and Entrepreneur

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Yes, she is a model.

And there are pictures of Clarkson junior Caralyn Mirand in Seventeen, Seventeen Prom, Teen Prom, Plus Model Magazine and others. She’s also in catalogs from Forever 21, Deb Shops, Sydney's Closet and Macy's. Yes, that Macy’s. You can also see shots of her on lots of fashion blogs.

And, just to get it out of the way, the answer to the question she always gets is: yes, sometimes she gets to keep the clothes she models.

“The thing about modeling,” she says, “people see the pictures, but most don’t see behind the scenes. It’s work.”

And there aren’t a lot of fashion studios in or around Potsdam. So, she travels—a lot—to Syracuse, then Los Angeles, Philadelphia and, of course, New York City. Then her hair is molded into place, makeup is slapped on and constantly re-touched, clothes are thrown at her and on her and then—flash!—a photographer captures something the magazines and catalogs and designers and industry execs like.

But she’s Aretê—a double major at Clarkson—focusing on business innovation and psychology. And that’s work, too, but Caralyn says her studies help further her modeling career.

“The shoot is a moment. The pictures, obviously, last longer. But both are business opportunities. At Clarkson, I’m learning to make the most of them. Part of that is learning how some powerful people in this industry make decisions that make careers.”

“Caralyn’s very driven,” says Erin Draper, Director of Clarkson’s Reh Center for Entrepreneurship. “And she’s been very smart about entering the fashion world. She goes to these photo shoots, then talks with the business people there about the industry, what they do and how they build a brand.”

Caralyn says her modeling started on a dare.

“My friends heard about this modeling competition and said I should enter,” she says. “I was supposed to be working on my college admissions, but then I got an e-mail from one of the producers [of the televised competition] asking for more photos.”

In just a few days, the Buffalo native put together a basic portfolio, sent it off and became a finalist—with an invitation to New York City, for her and her mom.

“So I had to go to my mom and say, ‘Umm… I did something I shouldn’t have.’”

She didn’t get in trouble, but she did get on Fiercely Real Model Search, hosted by Tyra Banks. She placed second in the reality TV show and the exposure eventually led to her current modeling work.

In a way, it also led to Clarkson.

“As modeling became an option, I figured New York was the place to go to school. But then I saw a good friend just get swallowed by the City. It changed him and he wasn’t happy. Clarkson was the last of the 15 campuses I visited and it just seemed like the right place for me.”

She says her time here confirms that she chose well.

“When I’m at Clarkson, I know what’s important in my life—what’s real. I get a lot of support from my instructors, like [professor] Marc Compeau. He’s helped me establish myself online and make sure my social media presence stays up to date. He’s basically helped me build my brand.”

Modeling, despite—or maybe because of—its make-believe character, has taught her some important lessons:

“I’ve met plenty of people in this business who promise the world, but then don’t answer their phones. I’ve learned to look for people who are confident in their own skin. That’s why I’m so blessed to have the friends I do. They keep me grounded.”

Modeling was an unexpected path but she sees longevity for herself in front of the camera.

“There’s no age cap in plus-size modeling, but when this winds down, I’m working on learning the strategies of people behind the scenes. I’d love to be an agent, picking faces for brands.”

She says Clarkson is helping with this, too.

“It seems like every day, Clarkson reminds me that what really matters has to be a lot more than skin deep.”

Caralyn Mirand