Burgeoning model balances college, career and club sport

By Hannah Newman

From the stables to horse shows, to a camera screen for fashion week, senior criminal justice major Dahlia Devivo has become the epitome of versatility after beginning her career as a model at 19 and keeping it alive throughout her college career. Devivo started horseback riding at the age of 12 and made visits to the stables weekly until she got to high school where she took on track and basketball, pausing her time horseback riding due to the immense expenses it came with.

After high school, Devivo knew she wanted to continue horseback riding. After exploring her options to do so at Rider, she felt that the club sports teams were highly recognized and taken rather seriously for not being at the Division I level. The comfortable environment and opportunity to compete was the key to Devivo committing to Rider.

“When I was looking for colleges, I saw that Rider had an equestrian team, and that’s honestly what drew me to Rider. I really liked the accepting community and team aspect I found here,” said Devivo.

In addition to joining the equestrian team, Devivo has taken on two leadership roles: social media chairman and treasurer.

“As a competing member, she has training requirements each week she has to meet in order to compete in the upcoming events,” said equestrian team adviser Lisa Tindall. “Dahlia does a great job in both her roles on the executive board and has demonstrated her commitment to the team. I think Dahlia sets an excellent example and has done well with her time-management skills.”

Not only has Devivo found her home at Rider, but she was also able to continue her modeling career and even elevate it during her college years.

Since 2019, she has been working as a freelance model, networking her own opportunities and finding her way through the fashion industry. She participated in Philly Fashion Week in 2020; however, due to COVID-19, it was put online. Although many models backed out of this event after adjustments that better suited COVID-19 were made, this experience was a breakthrough for Devivo, receiving the recognition she needed to begin her career on her own.

“It’s a very dangerous industry. It’s very easy to be scammed. You really have to learn the warning signs of what is legitimate and what isn’t. I would bring my dad to everything I had to attend when I first started modeling,” said Devivo.

Devivo then began to model brands of clothes such as Lola Jay Designs and take on any opportunities that she was offered to model. She allowed the learning process of independence to guide her in building a substantial portfolio while learning the ins and outs of cast calls, professional photography and fashion.

“Once I started modeling, I realized that I really loved being involved with the people that are really interested in fashion and the production and creativity behind it,” said Devivo.

Despite the growing career in fashion and escalating love for equestrian, Devivo is currently studying criminal justice, which is something that also piqued her interest at a young age. With a history of curiosity for law and order, she decided to pursue this interest, giving herself the stability of something to fall back on as she continues to pursue her passion for fashion and modeling.

“Back in high school I really didn’t know who I was. I was into very different things. I loved fashion, but at the time I really didn’t know that was something you could attend school for. Although I really liked fashion, I have always been interested in law and order ever since I was little. Having criminal justice and an equestrian team at Rider allowed me to follow my interests as I continue to model,” said Devivo.

Devivo has allowed her journey to contribute to building herself as a person. She continues to travel down the fashion road, motivated to learn new things while rejecting the negativity that comes with working in this industry.

“I definitely am looking toward fashion for the future and want to remain involved in it,” said Devivo.” I’ve used modeling as a gateway into the fashion industry, and I have been able to see all aspects of fashion such as the design and production process, the photographers as well as the other models, which has been a great experience so far. Modeling has taught me about myself as well as persistence. I think I’ve learned, if you really want to do something, it’s you that has to do [it]. It has brought me to a new level of independence.”

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