Igniting Her Future -- Mar 25, 2016

Seventeen-year-old Saugus High School student Katie Ironfield is like many high school seniors  – she has been applying to college, is on the swim team and is optimistic about what her future hold. But what sets her apart from the typical graduating high school senior is profound in many ways.
Katie, with local photographer Renee Bowen, was recently named as one of 12 winners of the Seniors Ignite National Model Contest.  Hundreds of other high school seniors enter the contest annually.
“I was completely floored; I was not expecting (to win) at all,” she said.  “There are tons of kids around the country who are great senior models.”
Katie said she had heard about Renee’s experience with other models around the valley, decided Renee was the photographer she wanted for her senior portraits and “everything just fell into place.”
Katie is Renee’s’s fourth model to win the national contest.  Renee, who owns Renee Bowen Photography and cofounded SEEN Magazine, said Katie’s story is incredible.
“It’s really just been fun to work with her this year.  Katie just has this light about her.  Everyone who meets Katie loves her instantly,” Renee said.  “She’s extremely genuine: she really is that happy, she really is that sweet, and she really is that smart.  She is very connected to herself, her spirit, her family.  You immediately want to know her.”
Katie chose to have her portraits done at the beach, and when Renee revealed to Katie that her photos had won, it was something that she wouldn’t forget.
“I saw (Seniors Ignite) as an opportunity to get close to other girls in my class and getting to shoot with Renee,” Katie said.  “It really was an honor for me, especially because some of the kids chosen are models and have contracts.  It’s such a great atmosphere, and there’s a lot of creativity.”
Katie and Renee spent a few days during the first week of March in Las Vegas, at the competition where Katie continued to model.  Renee taught other photographers some of her techniques and continued to take photographs.
Both had an “incredible experience,” Renee said.
“I think it’s a really neat experience because it’s something that kinda gets them out of their box, out of their normal everyday experience,” she added.  “They get to meet all these people, other winners from around the country.”
But Katie is different from the other models; she has faced unique adversity throughout her young life – from thriving with life-threatening food allergies and asthma to undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from her breast at 15 years old, from being involved in the Every Fifteen Minutes fatal crash simulation to volunteering at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.  As a result of her experiences, Katie hopes to be a role model for others who face similar medical adversities.
“I enjoy honestly talking about food allergies because other students and adults just don’t understand.  I coach a swim team over summer, and there is a girl with the same allergies,” she said.  “It’s great to know I was impacting her, to know that I gave her confidence.”
Through her adversity, Katie has turned what many view as negative experiences into positive ones.
“I always see my health difficulties as something that makes me strong.  I choose to see each day as a blessing,” she said.  “They drew me to the medical field, and now I want to study healthcare and go to a four-year university.”
For more information about the Seniors Ignite National Model Contest, visit www.seniorsignite.com

Source: http://scvelitemagazine.com/2016/03/igniti...