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A True American Beauty: Young Alumna Wins Big Sweepstakes

By Jena Howie

Courtney Webb ’10 never imagined she would be selected as grand prize winner of Vogue magazine’s American Beauty Sweepstakes, when she submitted her five-sentence contest blurb online. Little did she know that winning the sweepstakes would land her a job in New York City, a professional mentor, and the opportunity of a lifetime.

Webb entered the Vogue American Beauty Sweepstakes simply because she loved the magazine and was intrigued by the contest’s essay prompt. The prompt was to give a personal statement of how women exemplify modern American beauty. This is what she wrote:

“American beauty doesn’t just derive from where you came from. Its authenticity originates from each woman’s accomplishments, setbacks and rare, effortless outlook on themselves and life. I am half African American, half Swedish. I am also adopted, and my adoptive mother is Thai and my father is Black. Being bi-racial and adopted into a mixed family reflects a melting pot of modern American beauty. It embodies acceptance of myself, loving the differences of others around me and a confidence of proudly portraying; I’m a representation of my soul not my skin. I do not fit into a stereotype.”

The idea for the contest came from famed photographer Claiborne Swanson Frank’s book American Beauty, a photography book published in 2012 by Assouline Publishing that celebrates graceful, gutsy women who are as diverse as the nation itself.

As the grand prize winner, Webb won a trip for two to New York City during Fashion Week, a portrait taken by Frank, a tour of the Assouline Publishing house, an Estée Lauder makeover, and a $1,500 gift card to Nieman Marcus.

“Everything I won was amazing! Claiborne Swanson Frank has always been one of my favorite photographers. As an aspiring model, I found it an honor to have her take my portrait,” Webb said.

During Webb’s undergraduate years at Baylor, she did research on women in minorities and what it’s like to be bi-racial in today’s media. Her research was conducted in Dr. Mia Moody’s cultural communications class. This research was the basis for the five sentences that won Webb the sweepstakes and gave her an opportunity for her “big break” in New York.

“The research students do in my class teaches them to value themselves through an examination of culture in today’s society, ” Moody said. “They come up with research topics they are passionate about and become empowered through the class presentations.”

During the tour of Assouline Publishing, Webb met the company’s founders, Prosper and Martine Assouline. Webb immediately saw this as a career opportunity and dove in.

“Being the journalism major and businesswoman that I am, I decided to take matters into my own hands and ask about a job with Assouline Publishing in New York,” Webb said.

To add to the already phenomenal experience of winning the sweepstakes and attending New York Fashion Week, Webb was asked to submit her résumé and portfolio to Assouline. Eventually, she got a job offer.

“I did the contest because I am an avid Vogue reader and the topic was easy for me,” said Webb. “Winning the sweepstakes opened all of these doors, without me even knowing that I wanted them open.”

Webb is currently doing public relations and social media work for Houston-based LuLulemon, which makes technical clothing for yoga, running, dancing, and most other sweaty pursuits. She is also trying to expand her modeling career and has been traveling between Los Angeles, Texas, and Louisiana. Webb is currently still considering taking the job with Assouline.

To top things off, she has formed a relationship with the photographer, and that connection has provided her with countless opportunities and industry advice. Webb considers Frank to be a mentor and said she is honored to have such an amazing person to turn to in the fashion and photography industry.

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