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College freshman Nick Hissom models a Ralph Lauren shirt. He was discovered by a model scout through Facebook in June 2009 and landed his first gig shortly after.

While many students spent this weekend working in Van Pelt Library, College freshman Nick Hissom squeezed in schoolwork between photo shoots and red-carpet appearances.

Hissom, a London native, was scouted by a photographer on Facebook in June 2009 and then signed with Ford Models. Once he was photographed professionally and hired a manager in 2010, he landed his first big jobs.

Fashion blogs have called him the new “it” boy and a “model to watch.” He appears in editorial photo spreads, fashion videos and international advertising campaigns. For the spring, he will be featured in several international collections.

“Modeling is definitely not my priority,” Hissom said. In June, when his career in fashion took off, Hissom had already decided to attend Penn and never questioned his decision. He said his parents told him he must do well in school, even if he were “the face of every brand in the world.”

Hissom takes his classes all day on Tuesday and Thursdays and spends the weekends in New York City. “I walk straight from my last class on Thursday to the 7:40 train,” he said. His first meeting of the weekend is usually at 9 p.m., although he has canceled a few times “if there’s a cool downtown,” he said.

According to Hissom, he has and will continue to turn down modeling opportunities for exams or assignments.

“He has a lot on his plate,” said Sara Stosic, Hissom’s publicist. “He’s very mature for his age and already understands the fashion industry.”

Friday through Sunday, Hissom attends events like Heidi Klum’s Halloween party and the film premiere of The Tempest, where he enjoyed meeting Meryl Streep.

“Red carpets are good exposure for you and the designer you’re wearing,” he said. “I have at least one event every day.”

His photo shoots are usually on Monday. Hissom claims modeling is about “being natural” and connecting with the photographer — “there’s really not much to it.”

At Penn, Hissom lives a “very normal” freshman existence. In four classes, “I’m working my ass off just like everyone else,” he admitted.

His roommate, Engineering freshman Michael Yu, said the two are close and have a lot of deep conversations in their Harnwell College House dormitory.

Yu and his hallmates reap benefits from Hissom’s international modeling success. “I get great gift bags at events,” Hissom said. He recently brought his roommate a flip video camera and often gives hair and beauty products to the girls on his hall.

Though he’s in the spotlight now, Hissom recognizes that a modeling career isn’t something to depend on.

Hissom emphasized that while modeling is “something you do for a season, literally,” Penn “opens doors” for a lifetime.

“I would respect an Ivy League student much more than a successful model,” he said. “Between looks and brains, choose brains.”

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