South Shore fashion program provides scholarships, self-confidence to young models

CHICAGO (WLS) -- When these high school students at South Shore International College Prep aren't hitting the books, they're strutting on a catwalk.

Fashion/Modeling 101 is one of nearly two dozen after school programs offered at the school, and practice takes them well into the summer.

But it's a labor of love for these teens, who say this program has helped them prepare for life off the runway.

"You learn so much besides just modeling. You learn how to talk yourself up, more confidence, how to work a room. Things you're gonna keep for the rest of your life," said 16-year old Allyse Hopkins. She will be a senior at South Shore in the fall.

Hopkins said the modeling program is also helping her afford college by bringing in scholarship money that's raised from their fashion shows.

"It's really a blessing to be able to have the opportunity of doing what you love and getting money," said Deja Lewis, a recent South Shore graduate who will attend Clark Atlanta University next Spring. Lewis said she plans to major in fashion design.

She convinced Eric Osaro to give it a try. He said he's earned thousands of dollars in scholarships to Marquette University and has become more self-assured.

"When I come in, you think, 'I just have to walk.' But it's more than that. It's your face, your presence, your posture, everything," he said.

The students are practicing for their next fashion show at Dearborn Denim and Apparel in Hyde Park.

Each time they showcase a different theme. This time it's the "Time's Up" movement.

Stanley Coleman helped start the fashion modeling program five years ago and said it's been a success.

"We walk for change. We walk for equality. We walk to galvanize our South Shore community," Coleman said.

South Shore International College Prep's fashion show fundraiser will take place on Saturday, Aug. 25, at Dearborn Denim.

The program has gotten help from some big names like Tyler Perry, who has contributed to the scholarship drive, as well as Cubs manager Joe Maddon, through his "Respect 90" foundation.
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