I was born in West Berlin, Germany, back when that was a thing. My dad was an intelligence officer and my mom was a cryptologist in the Army who would break codes in Russian. We moved back to the USA when I was young, and I went to high school in Virginia. I took my SATs when I was 16, skipped my senior year of high school, and enrolled in early admissions at Mary Baldwin College. I technically never graduated from high school, in spite of having advanced degrees. In college, I made good grades, I played field hockey, I was on the swim team, I had great friends, and I was happy enough, but something was missing--and I was determined to find it.
I had been considering study abroad programs, and, in the beginning of my sophomore year, the school had a meeting about studying abroad in Italy. I saw a whole presentation on the country, and I fell in love with it. I knew that, by January, I would be living in Italy. But, my parents refused to pay for me to study abroad (A.K.A. "party in Europe"). I thought about modeling, wondering if I could get a job that would cover the fees for the program in time for me to meet their deadline, but it wasn't looking like that would be possible in Virginia.
Once I put my mind to something, though, it's happening. I was dead set on moving to Italy, and I decided that the next-best way for me to get there was to become a fashion model in Milan. I went online and searched until I found an agency that was willing to advance my flights, apartment, transportation, and spending money for three months. Against all sound advice, I left college when I was eighteen and became an international fashion model/high school dropout.
I'd been modeling in America since I was fourteen, but it was never something that I took seriously. The only reason I'm a model today is because someone said, "No," to my dream of spending one semester of college at another school! It blows my mind! I'm so grateful everyday that my parents didn't support that endeavor, because I can pinpoint that moment as the exact point in time that my entire life changed for the better. It was the moment where I gave up on living everyone else's dreams, when I stopped taking advice from people whose lives I didn't want to live, and I started listening to my own instincts over other people's words.
I stayed in Europe for a couple of years, before moving to Asia. I modeled in Asia for five or six years, then retired from modeling and enrolled in medical school. I love school, and I'm really interested in learning, but I still didn't feel like I was challenged. It was time-consuming, but it wasn't stimulating; there was a lot of information, but it wasn't hard. I tried enrolling in a masters program at the same time, which helped a little. I had less free time, at least. l missed the excitement of modeling, and I thought that I'd try to submit photos to Playboy, to do just one last job before I resigned myself full-time to the boring life of clinical rotations in Chicago.
Playboy flew me to LA within two weeks of emailing them, and I got to stay at the Mansion, which was really exciting. I had a lot of fun and it was great to meet Hef and the girls. About a week after I got home to Chicago, I found out that they were going to make me Miss December! I was so excited. I flew back to LA three weeks later, stayed at the Mansion, and shot my pictorial, "House Call." Not too long after that, Playboy asked me to move to LA to be PMOY. They haven't had a PMOY who has lived outside of LA since 2002, or something crazy like that, so, of course, I said yes, and I've been here ever since.
I had no idea that Playboy would open so many doors, but it has. It's been such a blessing to have had these experiences, and I'm so thankful everyday that I just get to wake up and do what I love. I will be a doctor, someday, but right now, I'm happy where I am. If I've learned anything from my past, it's that I can trust myself to go back to school when the time is right. Just because it's not conventional doesn't mean I'm failing, and I think that's something we all forget from time-to-time.
I'm okay knowing that my "educated model" thing confuses people, but I'm not living my life for anyone but myself. I've managed to find a really good balance between school and work, which is something that a lot of people do every single day. My job might be a little bit different than what's typical, but I'm not special. I'm not doing anything that a lot of people who worked their way through college didn't do, and it's important to remember that. Reaching our goals comes down to desire and determination, because no one else can make you quit or give up on your dreams. They can pressure you to quit all day long, but the choice is ultimately yours.
You can be anything you want, and this is who I want to be. I want to be educated, and smart as hell, but also I want to have fun, go out with my friends, and be sexy. Since I became PMOY, I've gotten a masters degree in healthcare administration, gotten involved with a couple of incredible charities, traveled the entire country (a really interesting change from my international travels), started a fitness company, learned how to day trade, became a social media influencer, and am looking forward to becoming a doctor in the future. Life is busy, but it's a great adventure. I want to try everything; I feel like that's what your twenties are for!