Stockton’s very own ‘African queen’ at Delta: Nursing student works as model when not hitting the books

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When the lights dim, the chattering ceases and excitement fills the air.

The first model prepares herself before she struts down the runway.

Teresa Joao, 19, is a Delta College student who leads a double life. On campus, she’s studying to be a nurse. Off campus, she’s a model who has appeared in shows throughout California.

“Before I walk out I get so nervous,” said Joao. The idea of seeing so many people she doesn’t know makes her nervous — the thoughts of “what if I do good or not or what if I might mess up or trip” go through her head she said, “but once I get out there it’s like ‘I got this.’”

Joao wears a radiant outfit generating sparks with every step as she moves in her own energy field. She walks down a long elevated runway that extends through the heart of the room with seats surrounding each side.

And all eyes are on her.

She’s clear, confident and paying attention. She’s not drained, distracted, or confused. She’s motivated by her own ideals. Her power comes from within.

“Modeling is great but you have to be passionate,” said Joao. “You have to be confident because there’s a lot of people that’ll go and watch you.”

The first time she modeled she was 17. Her first experience was modeling for a Sacramento designer, and she’s been modeling ever since then.

In August, Joao had a show in Dublin.

This time she was modeling for her aunts who make African clothing.

Joao’s aunts get fabric from Africa or Europe. It takes weeks for them to design clothes.

But when all the designing and crafting is done they put on a public fashion show, where they go all out. A hall is rented. Makeup artists are employed.

The models get together the day before to practice how to walk.

When they walk they have to look straightforward. Joao described it as maintaining stability. “For me I can’t smile I have to be really mad,” she said. “It’s hard because you have to stay focused but it’s pretty cool — it’s fun.”

Because they walk in heels they “always make sure (their) heels are comfortable to walk in.”

Joao said the models rehearse with the clothes designed for them.

“The clothes are long so you can always trip but just be confident,” said Joao, “and wear something that you feel comfortable in to walk with.”

Her favorite part about modeling is that she has that model type of body to express herself. But she also enjoys wearing the African clothing because she’s proud to show others that she’s from Africa.

“I call myself African queen because that’s how I represent my continent — I’m African and proud to be African,” said Joao. “I feel of myself as beautiful and fierce.”

As much as modeling is fun for Joao, she doesn’t want to pursue a career in it.

She wants to become a Pediatric nurse.

“I love helping people and being a part of the medical field,” she said.