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North St. Louis County high school student is making her mark in the modeling world

17-year-old Aaliyah Buford has modeled for Lacoste and Kim Kardashian's SKIMS line with Fendi. She's graduating early to pursue opportunities in LA and New York.

ST. LOUIS — From north St. Louis County to the fashion runways of Los Angeles, 17-year-old Aaliyah Buford is making waves in the modeling world.

"I try to be as fierce as I can and I just try to show the empowerment that I feel," Buford said.

Buford commands the room with her catwalk. A bold strut from someone who describes herself as an introvert.

"It's surprising saying I'm in the modeling industry because it's such a glamour, extroverted industry but I think it's helped a lot to help me open up," she said.

Growing up in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, the McCluer South Berkeley High School student found her passion for modeling at 15-years-old.

"I was practicing in my room when I built a comfortability with myself, and then when I had my first photoshoot that was when I was like yeah this is what I want to do," Buford said.

Buford joined Mother Management when she was 16 years old, the same modeling agency that discovered supermodel and St. Louis native Karlie Kloss at age 13.

"Practicing my test shoots, making sure I'm getting in that time, practicing my walking, critiquing my walking, so it's just a lot of help I'm getting from them to help build what I'm growing to be," Buford said.

She's well on her way, landing gigs with Lacoste and modeling for Kim Kardashian's SKIMS line with Fendi.

"It had like a spinning rotation thing that we were standing on, so I was trying to use all of my muscles to not fall over so it was really cool," Buford said.

She's graduating high school early to pursue opportunities in Los Angeles and potentially New York City.

"I have people come up to me at school telling me like 'Wow Aaliyah, you're doing so great and you've just been inspiring me to do what I want to do!' and stuff like that," Buford said.

Standing at just under 5-foot-11, she said modeling helped her to love and embrace every part of herself; newfound confidence that's now influenced others.

"You look at other people for inspiration, but I think that now that I'm becoming that person that people are feeling inspired by I think sometimes it's still very shocking and it's very humbling as well," Buford said.

This is Buford's last week of high school.

She'll continue taking classes at St. Louis Community College at Florissant while she pursues opportunities in Los Angeles.

Once she turns 18 later this year, she plans to take her talents to New York City.