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Model Anok Yai found her success from being in school, albeit not in the most conventional way. She now fronts Elle magazine’s January 2019 issue.

Then a 19-year-old student of biochemistry at Plymouth State University in New York, Yai—who was brought up with her five siblings by her Sudanese parents in Egypt and the US—spiraled to fame after photos of her at one of Howard University’s homecoming events appeared on Instagram.

The pictures, which were shot by a writer and photographer named Steve from blog SUNK, caught the attention of numerous model agencies, and the rest is history.

Yai, now signed under international model agency NEXT Management, propelled to the cover of Elle magazine just one year and two months after being discovered.

“My phone just started vibrating rapidly for a long, long time…” she told The Boston Globe last year. “I honestly thought someone made a meme of me or something.”

She describes to Elle magazine that her parents were in disbelief over her overnight fame, and that her father declared something along the lines of, “You’re telling me that someone wants to pay for your flight to LA, pay for your hotel, and then pay you to take photos? It’s a scam!”

They can now put their worries to rest, as this supermodel is certainly going places. Take a look at the January 2019 cover of Elle magazine, snapped by photographer Max Papendiek, and check out the pictures that started it all.

[via Business Insider, images via various sources]

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