Text: Stan Becton
Photography: Christina Jin


Dominique Aruede is a freshman here at Carnegie Mellon University.  Like most freshman, she came in with expectations of college to be slightly more difficult than high school, but generally the same.  Yet, upon her arrival at CMU, she realized that college would be a bigger challenge than she thought.

“It seemed like everything was just subscripts to one big challenge once I came to CMU. Trying to keep up with the rigor and workload of my classes was especially difficult,” said Aruede.  “So much of my time went into schoolwork and stressing out that I forget to call my parents, and friendships from high school were duller than they used to be. Also as a woman of faith, I found myself having to figure out how to adjust my life to all the drastic changes going on around me”

Balancing everything did not come easy to Aruede.  In actuality, learning to find balance in her life actually presented more questions than it did answers.  However, over time those answers came along with a renewed focus.

“I had to learn to balance out my life and manage my time efficiently. Most importantly, though, I learned how to reach out and ask for help and not be afraid of people who know more than me. When my mind is organized, my life is organized,” said Aruede.


In the process of adjusting to her new college environment, Aruede auditioned for SPIRIT Fashion Show.  SPIRIT Fashion Show’s diversity really caught her eye and “[she] was drawn in by SPIRIT Fashion Show’s widespread demonstration of beauty in diversity”.

Aruede also saw SPIRIT Fashion Show as an outlet to fill her desire to perform and also continue her battle in overcoming stage fright.

“Being an SFS model is [a] really dope outlet for me, and a dope challenge as well,” said Aruede. “Even in simply practicing how to walk, there’s a certain way to do it that requires confidence. Commands it, almost. Confidence that I don’t have, but I’m getting there. SFS helps with that.”

As her confidence grows, Aruede continues to see the importance of being comfortable in her own skin.  Loving yourself and developing a “mindset” based on embracing your own imperfections has only helped boost Areude’s confidence.  When asked what one of the most impactful points of self-realization was for her, she left me with the following,

“Dark skin is beautiful, and I am beautiful”