When West Virginia University student Elleyse Gemondo stumbled upon an online contest for Gladys Magazine, she never imagined she’d be selected as a Dream Star for the national publication.
Based in Pittsburgh, Gladys Magazine is a quarterly, national magazine and online source dedicated to helping busy people of all ages create and inspire change. It regularly highlights “Dream Stars” – newcomers to the modeling and acting industries who have inspirational stories, both personal and professional.
As she was browsing the magazine’s website in March, Gemondo, a Bridgeport, W.Va., native and fashion design and merchandising major in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, saw the contest advertisement and decided to throw her name into the hat.
“I e-mailed them three pictures of myself along with my favorite quote and didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “I mainly just took a big chance hoping to be selected.”
The Coco Chanel quote she submitted – “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different” – is one Gemondo believes applies to all facets of one’s life – career, relationships and dreams.
“People should always strive to not be a copy of someone else, but to be themselves,” Gemondo said. “Everyone has their own set goals and dreams they would like to accomplish throughout their lives. Sometimes it might feel like all you want to do is give up if you don’t get something on the first try, but everything takes hard work and dedication.”
In July, Gemondo was told she had been selected as one of 12 finalists from 350 applicants nationwide. Of those 12, five were selected as Dream Stars to be featured in the Inspirational Holiday Issue of Gladys Magazine.
Being selected as a Dream Star allowed Gemondo to experience her first professional magazine photoshoot.
“I was overwhelmed with excitement when I was selected,” she said. “Modeling has been something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a little girl. This is honestly a dream come true.”
For her modeling session, Gemondo borrowed gowns, dresses, shoes and accessories from Coni & Franc in downtown Morgantown. She then traveled to Sutton Inn and Resort in Farmington, Pa., to meet with Robert Covington, a photographer from Sparks, Ga.
“I was taken over by so many emotions as I embarked in this professional photoshoot,” she said. “I was excited, thankful, and happy. Being able to take part in something like this is many girls’ dreams, but to actually have the opportunity is a feeling I cannot even explain.”
For her, this is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a career in the fashion industry.
“Every year when I was a little girl, my family went on vacation to NYC. It was there that I saw models and everything fashion. I loved it, and knew at that moment I wanted to grow up to be in the fashion industry either being a model, designer, merchandiser,” Gemondo said. “It wasn’t until I got older that I decided I wanted to major in fashion merchandising and hopefully become a buyer for a department store one day. In the meantime, I decided to keep following my dream of becoming a model while I was pursing my degree at WVU.”
The holiday issue of Gladys Magazine will be on newsstands in October.
CONTACT: Lindsay A. Willey; Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
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