Models and beauty queens are stereotyped of being shallow and not so smart. Yet, Alexandra is a model and a beauty queen that will challenge everything you ever thought about women in the fashion industry.
She has represented Puerto Rico in beauty pageants internationally, as well as being a model instructor for a while. Yet, in the weekdays, you can find her at Dr. Taras Oleskyk genetics lab, working on advanced scientific research. Beauty pageants are then, the least impressive item on her resume.
In celebration of Women’s Week, showcasing features of powerful, empowering women in campus, we introduce you to a brilliant, beautiful woman inside and out. Meet this week’s Campus Cutie, Alexandra.
Name: Alexandra L. Wiscovitch Bonilla
Major: Industrial Microbiology and Biology
Graduation Year: 2015
Status: Not single, not taken. There’s just someone special.
HC: What came first, modeling or science? Give us a brief introduction on how you got involved in both.
I model since I was 10 years old. As a kid I was overweight and my mom was worried about my health. Instead of putting me on a diet, she decided that a modeling course would help me get healthier and bring me the confidence I was lacking. It actually worked. I continued modeling and now I am an instructor at Annjannette Modeling Agency. Modeling opened numerous opportunities for me: runway shows, shootings and even being the host of a TV show. Science has always being my favorite subject, but it wasn’t until I took a course with Dr. Taras Oleksyk in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez that I discovered my true passion: Genetics. That course changed my plans completely and becoming a scientist became my ultimate goal as a career.
HC: What is the one thing that you learned as a model that has enriched you as a scientist and vice versa?
Modeling gave me the tools to exploit my public speaking abilities. It has helped me overcome my fear of speaking in public and has helped me convey my findings in science not only to other scientists, but also to the general public. Both careers are very competitive and require a lot of patience. I think science has helped me not to give up when there is a shortcoming in my modeling career.
HC: Do people underestimate you as a scientist because of your protection of pageant girl? What have you done to overcome that?
I have always being a little shy about telling people that I am a model or a pageant girl. To my surprise, instead of people underestimating me, they are astonished because I have managed to succeed in two different careers: modeling and science. Everywhere I go to present my science projects, I work extra hard to excel during my presentations so I can set an example that a woman can be pretty and intelligent at the same time. It is my goal to set an example to other women and to stop stereotypes.
HC: What influential women dead or alive inspires you and why?
I have to say that I find Michelle Obama truly inspiring. She’s not only intelligent. She has managed to be an excellent wife, mother, lawyer and now, the First Lady. Her efforts to inspire young people to continue studying after high school and become aware that they can have a bright future no matter their race, gender or income are truly inspirational. Michelle Obama states the message I want to give not only to other women but also to all the young people out there: we need to become educated to help our country and have a brilliant future.