Exotic engineer

By day, junior Sabrina Patel can be found in the library studying linear programming, network models and queuing theory for her systems analysis major in the engineering school. But by night, her work gets much more scandalous.

Patel, often clad in barely-there lingerie, a bikini or S&M apparel, has spent the past year flaunting and photographing her petite 5’4” frame, and getting herself noticed in the modeling business. She has been featured on runways around the city, modeling Web sites and is in next month’s issue of the men’s magazine FHM, in stores now.

An exotic looking half-Indian, half-white beauty, Patel models for Advocate’s Angels, a fast-rising modeling agency operating up and down the East Coast. She said she got started modeling while she was working as a promoter for Panorama Productions, an agency that organizes club parties all over the city.

“Once I started going to the clubs, I noticed that they had fashion shows sometimes, and the models were paid a lot more than the promoters,” she said. “I said to myself: ‘I bet I can do that,’ and I just went for it.”

Patel, who grew up in the region and went to high school in Fairfax County, Va., said she started modeling to make some extra dough and found an agency through those on the promoter scene. Things quickly moved from part-time to full-time and a bump in the road caused her to make a switch.

“I got started a year ago with Liton agency, but after a while I stopped working with them because they thought I had too many tattoos,” Patel, who has handcuffs tattooed on her legs and a key in a more mysterious place, said. “Then I registered onto Myspace.com, and that’s where I found the agency I am currently working for, Advocate’s Angels.”

While Patel may not be mainstream yet, her modeling career has boomed through the popularity of online databases like Facebook and MySpace. She uses them to get hired for shoots or shows and advertise her past and upcoming work.

Patel has modeled lingerie or swimsuits all around the District, from Fur Nightclub in Northeast to MCCXXIII downtown on Connecticut Avenue. She also does car modeling for an agency called Crossroad Cuties, an online agency.

She said she loves working as a model and definitely likes getting noticed, particularly by her peers.

“Sometimes I get looks from guys around campus who seem to recognize me,” she smiled.

Patel’s biggest success, perhaps, has been as an Internet model. She won a contest last month on the developing Web site www.baselinejumper.com. The site’s contest, “Belle of the Ball,” had users vote on their favorite models based on their photos.

The contest was designed to nominate one guy and one girl model across different regions in the country to represent the modeling agency and be a spokesperson to students in the area. Patel, as D.C.’s representative, will be featured periodically on the site in photos and short videos to promote upcoming events in the region.

Some have even found Patel so popular as an Internet model that they’ve suggested she take it one step further.

“There is talk about me doing an Internet reality series after winning this competition,” she laughed.

But modeling is only the half of it. Patel said trying to cram in shoots and shows, classes and schoolwork and her other job as a waitress at T.G.I. Friday’s can be a tight squeeze.

“Sometimes I have two shoots during the week,” she said. “It’s crazy, and that’s when it interferes with my schoolwork.”

But despite her modeling success so far, she said that it never comes second to getting her degree.

“I do a lot of night shoots at the clubs so that I can concentrate on school during the day,” she said. “You’ll always find me at the library.”

Patel doubts she will pursue modeling professionally – she’s happy being an engineering nerd who knows about operations and statistical analysis as opposed to a bathing suit beauty. Eventually, she said she hopes to use her systems analysis degree to become a lawyer.

“After I graduate, I’m really interested in going to law school to study patent law,” she said. “We’ll see what happens.”

But for now, Patel will continue her modeling on the side to make some extra cash and grab some well-deserved attention.

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