Isabel Fehn: I define success as being at a place where you feel you are on track

By Ivan Gomez

What is your definition of culture?

Culture to me is what you choose to embrace your background. Even though my father is from the U.S. I have always strongly identified as Latino. Being that my mother is from Costa Rica, I am the first generation on her side to be in the United States. Having that side of my family in Costa Rica has given me many opportunities to visit there and stay for long periods of time. I have grown up very close to my family regardless of the distance and find that the traditions and customs have become important in my life. I believe even though blood links you to a particular culture, you have to actively engage in it and incorporate it into your life. My religion, values, and importance of family are all things that I have taken on as part of my mother’s culture passed down to me. I would be a different person otherwise.


Tell us about yourself: Why do you want to work as a model? Why are you interested in this career?

I would like to work as a model because I find it to be a very refreshing and an artistic way to express myself. The modeling I have done thus far has been purely for pleasure and I have been very blessed to have many opportunities to work with various photographers in the area on a wide range of projects. What led me to where I am now is that in my late teen years I struggled with my weight and felt very bad about myself. I battled self-esteem problems as well as my weight for several years, however, after having my daughter (who is now 18 months old), I wanted to become healthy and set a good example for her. After having lost a lot of weight through proper nutrition and exercise, I began to feel better and more confident in myself. Getting to a place where I felt beautiful and strong made me want to start modeling because when I was much younger, before I began gaining a lot of weight, I remember often being told that I was so beautiful, and that I should model, or that I reminded them of Angelina Jolie or whoever. Modeling was something I had wanted to do since being a little girl though I lost the hope of that happening for a long time. Modeling challenges me to be vulnerable in front of a camera and to be confident in my skills. It pushes me and challenges me in different ways than my academic career so I feel it helps me be a more well-rounded individual.


Why would you think you’re fit to be a model?

I feel that I am fit to be a model because I am a strong, confident, and beautiful woman who easily connects to an audience. I am full of life and I like to work with others to create something above and beyond what was originally imagined. I am also relatable. This was not something just handed to me. This is something I have worked for while also raising my daughter as a single mom, finishing college, getting my health on track while working. Art is enjoyed more when one can connect to it;  I feel that applies here.

What are your goals as a model? How do you see yourself progress in this field?

My goals as a model are to continue seeking out and taking on opportunities that come my way. For me, my main priority career wise is getting my PhD in clinical psychology after I finish undergraduate this upcoming summer. However, modeling is something I truly enjoy doing and hope to continue to have opportunities in. Moving forward, I hope to have opportunities to work with clothing companies and do print/catalogue modeling. I also would really enjoy doing fitness-related modeling because of how passionate I am about fitness. In addition to promoting my modeling work on social media, I have also gained a large audience following my health journey. I find it rewarding to know that my story relatable and help others. Though I really would like to work in the fashion industry, I look forward to any opportunity that expands my knowledge!


Do you have any limitations? Would you model any kind of clothing at all?

The only limitation I would have is when it comes to lingerie. I would not be comfortable modeling in lingerie because I do not feel comfortable in terms of modesty. Do I feel comfortable enough to model swimsuits? Yes. For me, it is just the implications associated with it. Having a daughter, I make choices keeping in mind the example I want to set for her.


When you’re not busy modeling, what are some of your favorite things to do?

Hmmm, well I love trying new restaurants. I also love to go out salsa dancing! I enjoy spending time outside when the weather is nice and do a lot of things with my daughter like going for runs or to the playground.


If you weren’t a model, what would you want to do? I heard you are studying psychology at Cleveland State University, can you elaborate on this a little more?

I strive to be a clinical psychologist.  I would get my PhD and do both research and see patients. Specialization wise I am leaning toward being a child and adolescent clinical psychologists. I feel that early interventions are the best at helping individuals best.   Over time it is difficult to discern whether a child’s difficulty is normal given the age or exceeds the norm for the given age range.; this is often the case.  My research interests would relate in particular to traumatic brain injury in children and adolescents with regards to treatment options and interventions for better short-term and long-term outcomes.


Why psychology?

I find the mind and brain to be fascinating and decided a year before even graduating from high school that it would be my field of study. Since originally finding it interesting, I have taken every opportunity to gain the most knowledge and take as many psychology courses as possible. I specifically choose clinical psychology as being my concentration in graduate school because I want to be able to help those with psychological disabilities. In society, there are a lot of misconceptions and prejudices regarding mental illness since it essentially is “invisible.”   I would like to help educate the public, starting from an early age, to understand mental illness.  Having a greater understanding of it can significantly improve the outcomes of those who suffer from mental illness. I am a very compassionate individual and I want to help those who suffer from illnesses who are treated worse in comparison to individuals with illnesses that are overtly visible.  Also, working in research, I hope to find better treatments for individuals, especially ones without the need for drugs. I believe in some cases they can be vital, but I think over prescription sadly occurs in our society leading to drug addiction and other negative consequences that affect not only the individual but also their community.


How do you define success?

I define success as being at a place where you feel you are on track. For example, currently, I am doing everything in my power to work hard to get to where I want to be academically in my career. I may not be finished however I feel that I am succeeding. All things take time and I feel that emphasis on the journey as well as the destination is important. I feel that defining success as the “end stage” limits you because then “What is next?” it just ends.  Success to me is being on the path you want to be. Success is persevering through what life throws at you and getting back up every time life knocks you down. Success is being strong even when you are exhausted. Success is knowing where you want to go and allowing it to drive you but also understanding that life is uncertain, and acknowledging that one must adjust to life while still maintaining the drive to move toward your goal.


How would you react if your photographer told you to pose this way, and you absolutely did not want too?

I am very open to things so if a situation were to arise where I did not feel comfortable I would say something.  I think you can tell a lot from a photograph and they turn out much better when the model feels comfortable and confident.  If I felt a pose misrepresented me and what I stand for, I would want to discuss it to explain why I feel that way rather than just saying no. I think collaboration and healthy communication between a photographer and model is crucial.


What was the best advice ever given to you?

I once had a teacher who said that your capabilities are useless until you believe in yourself. She essentially taught me that you must believe in yourself and drive yourself for things to happen.  If you do not believe in your own capabilities and potential, why should you expect someone else to?


How important is education?

I feel that education is very important.  I mean this both in terms of the traditional academic learning setting and learning from less formal experiences. I think that there are skills taught in school that are vital that are not learned elsewhere.  There are vital learning experiences that may happen in other environments such as the home, church, sports, that are not learned through a formal academic environment.  I do think formal education, as well as real-world knowledge, is essential to becoming a well- rounded and knowledgeable individual.

How do you spend your free time?

Since I am in classes during the day, I try to spend as much free time as possible with my daughter since she is not with me during most of the day. In addition to being with her, I also work out a lot and run an Instagram and You Tube fitness channel. I am also very close to my family and spend a lot of time with them.   I also enjoy going out dancing with friends very much!


What is the most important thing you want people to know about you?

That the most important thing in the world to me is my daughter and mi familia.  Also, I do my best to promote a healthy and active lifestyle and try to help others make the changes they want to make. I am a very open, honest, and genuine person and I always enjoy when people reach out to me.  For me, one of the most rewarding things I have are the experiences of having total strangers reach out and say how much my story resonates with them or how much it has inspired them.


Do you want to add anything else or have shout outs?

Thank you to my friends and family who have made me “me” and who have helped and supported me. Special thanks to mi Mama y Papa for never giving up on me; for always believing in me even if I did not and for continuing to support me in my endeavors. The roles they have taken on to help me finish my education and support my daughter, Lillian, have been immense. I feel so incredibly blessed to have such endlessly loving parents.

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