Reaching for the unexpected and honoring her roots, College of Arts and Science student Kuniya Asobayire is a Public Policy major and model
Curating your own looks to capture yourself on your phone. Posing for a magazine cover. Heading down the street in your best outfit. Strutting on the runway at Fashion Week. For College of Arts and Science (CAS) junior Kuniya Asobayire, these all represent the art—and science—of modeling. “It comes with theories, formulas, and a lot of questions,” she explains. “Impactful modeling is art that goes beyond the ordinary, the stereotypes, and the expected.” In both her art and her studies as a Public Policy major and Politics minor, Kuniya pushes boundaries and challenges assumptions with grace and poise.
New York City Fashion Scene
Kuniya was raised by a model. Her mother immigrated to the United States from Ghana for a runway show in Bryant Park. It’s no surprise then, that the fashion world captured her attention as a child. “Between that and growing up in a vibrantly colored and cultured African household, loving fashion was easy,” she explains. When Kuniya committed to NYU in 2020, she turned that love into action. She first posed for multidisciplinary artist Denise Stephanie, a student at the Tisch School of the Arts. Denise then encouraged her to pursue modeling. Additionally, Tisch student Chiemeka Offor photographed Kuniya wearing Tia Adeola. That was her first time modeling for a major label.
Another fellow NYU student with fashion connections secured Kuniya an internship at New York Fashion Week. Kuniya was able to work behind the scenes at one of the four major fashion events in the world. She delivered dresses to models, set up hair and makeup equipment, ushered audiences, and more. But the highlight for her? “Getting to stand in as a model during rehearsal and walk down the runway was the most exciting part of the experience,” Kuniya remembers. “Before, I had thought my interest in fashion was just a distant dream—but here at NYU, I can pursue fashion and focus on my academics at the same time. NYU is a home for all of my talents and dreams.”
A Model Citizen
When it comes to her academic focus in public policy, Kuniya is also comfortable finding a place in the spotlight. “Growing up in an age where young people are the world’s biggest activists, I have also learned the power of using my voice to enact change. Studying public policy shows me how I can do just that,” she says. She’s not waiting for life after graduation to get involved. In addition to her classes, Kuniya is the director of communications for both the Undergraduate Law Society and the Public Policy Student Board as well as the treasurer of the African Students Union. She’s also the cohort president for the the CAS College Cohort Program and a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity and the Academic Achievement Program.
Ultimately, Kuniya wants to represent people who look like her—both on and off the runway. She says, “I want younger people to look at me and think they do not have to change a single thing about themselves because I am confident in the way I look. Then, some day, I hope to attend law school and pursue social justice work.” She is specifically passionate about pursuing human rights policy and education policy for young girls in developing countries.