Excerpt from “Required Reading”Wade Phelps
Shortstack Cover Models: Olivia Mignone and Tany Rios
Shortstack models Featured on the cover A&U Magazine – Appearing in the 7 page spread are Iasia Stewart, Kati Johnson, Olivia Mignone and Tanya Rios.
High school and college students know summer reading lists quite well. Composed to help students prep for the coming year, the pages and pages assigned inevitably clash with the pull of the city park, the beach, the blockbuster movie, or even the daydream. Education and following one’s bliss threaten to cancel each other out
as the mercury rises and air conditioning beckons. As part of Shortstack, a teen- driven fashion and modeling program that seeks to give young women who do not fit
the “normal” model standards a chance to be a part of charitable fashion events, the models featured in these pages have found a way to make the sharing of knowledge
and the pursuit of happiness coexist. Shortstack, which has found a home as part of Window of Opportunity’s nonprofit mission to empower, support, and guide youth to
help them make a “healthier transition into their future,” was founded by Olivia Mignone, who serves as program director. Inspired by a vision, a dream that she had, high-school student Mignone feels that, “anyone should be allowed to obtain their goals without limitations.” Her involvement in peer education, leadership, and community service, says the Oakland Gardens, New York, resident, is informed by flipping the script: “I feel youth are often seen in a negative perspective. In addition to helping my community, I wanted to show that youth can make a major difference.”
Shortstack’s recent charity fashion show also helped change the oft-told tale of youth as apathetic when fourteen models took to the runway. Tanya Rios of Whitestone,
New York, Shortstack’s other program director, says of their decision to raise funds for WOO’s and Living Beyond Belief’s HIV/AIDS Peer Empowerment Program: “I’ve
been involved in HIV/AIDS training for the past year and I want to promote a program that addresses the pandemic in a way that my peers will understand the importance of protecting themselves.” Like Shortstack, A&U’s sixth annual literary issue knows very well that the AIDS community has its own required reading embracing what we have learned from the past and how we might re-imagine the future. Turn the page for A&U’s must-reads: Interviews with writers Andrew Holleran and armistead Maupin, along with fiction by Zdravka Evtimova and poetry by Chip Livingston and Lisa Albers.