As she prepares to attend New York Fashion Week, one of the most critical events in the industry, the 19-year-old aspiring model called out her Harvard professors, who insist that what she is doing “isn’t real work” and find it difficult to grasp her busy schedule.
Although Simmons will miss a few classes as she recently applauded a few of her professors for understanding that her high-profile modeling career while balancing an IVY league education is not easily manageable.
Simmons boasted on her Instagram story about her professors allowing her to miss class for work while showing her appreciation for her professors who support her unconventional Harvard journey by giving them a shoutout.
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“Shout to professors who are understanding and accommodating about Fashion week! Like I’m happy to do any extra work required and I’m sorry about the occasional absences. Finding an understanding professor is the best,” she wrote on her Instagram story.
“Maybe because it’s Harvard, but certain professors will hear “modeling” and laugh in your face. It’s always nerve-wracking explaining why you need an absence for work,” she wrote In a separate story. “But some won’t even discuss it, whether you are willing to zoom in, write an extra paper, turn the homework in earlier, whatever. Some won’t even try to meet you halfway.”
Following these appreciation posts, Simmons criticized her teachers in a TikTok video for not considering her modeling as “serious work” compared to her classmates’ extracurricular obligations.
@aokileesimmonsMaybe if I had a lacrosse game you’d give me the zoom link?♬ Back End – Finesse2tymes
“When professors love being accommodating for students with jobs and work opportunities, they ‘respect’ but modeling isn’t real work in their opinions,” she added, “Maybe if I had a lacrosse game, you’d give me the zoom link?”
Simmons made another video responding to the comments on her TikTok statements.
“I’m not comparing myself to students who have jobs that they’re using to support themselves financially or support their families,” she said. “I was referring to just students who choose to start work early because they have an opportunity or they have an interest — and professors [are] kind of picking and choosing what kind of ‘dreams’ are appropriate to chase.”
“And the ones that are not ‘appropriate’ to chase tend to be creative or feminine, modeling, dancing, acting, creative pursuits, but professors are fine giving you the zoom link or being accommodating if you’re working on a startup that’s making no money and your family is paying for it because a startup is respectable,” she added.
The Ivy League student also defended her choice to pursue modeling while going to college when someone asked why a person who is “articulate and educated” would choose to model.
“Well, one, because I love it, and I think we should normalize you liking something. You don’t have to do what you’re immediately good at,” she responded to the remark.
The model made her runway debut last year for Pyer Moss Paris Couture, Baby Phat line, and Just Fab.