Sofia Jirau
Photo: Instagram/@ sofiajirau

Latina Model with Down Syndrome Walks Runway for New York Fashion Week

Sofia Jirau – a 22-year-old model with Down Syndrome – walked the runway at New York Fashion Week. “When I was little, I looked myself in the mirror and said, ‘I’m going to be a model and a businesswoman,’” she said from her homeland of Puerto Rico. Since joining INprende agency, she’s modeled for Kelvin Giovannie and Marisa Santiago and recently launched her own apparel and accessories line, Alavett.

She’s become a symbol of hope and a reminder that anything is possible, a belief that’s helped her reach this point in her career. “One day I looked in the mirror and said, ‘I’m going to be a model and I’m going to get to New York‘ and look, here I am,” she said. “I made it and now I want to model worldwide.”

But she’s not stopping there, Jirau launched Alavett – a play on “I love it” that features apparel, accessories, and home decor with the signature heart design on a peachy backdrop. “Alavett is my cry of joy to the world,” it says on the website, which states it’s her favorite phrase. Between modeling and entrepreneurship, she’s shaping up to have a career similar to her idol and fellow Puerto Rican Jennifer Lopez.

“I want to meet Jennifer Lopez. I like how she dresses and how she is. I love all of her clothes,” she told PEOPLE. “I love her songs, her CDs, her photos. Everything.”

In the meantime, she’s set her sights on Europe while her team of volunteers works to connect her with European designers. She’s also supported by her parents and three siblings who all accompanied her to New York. With their help, she’s been able to achieve dreams that people with Down Syndrome may have never thought possible before and she’s embraced the idea of being a role model and example that anything is possible.

“Yesterday I fulfilled a dream. I was born for this and I want to show the world that I have everything a model needs to shine,” she posted after the NYFW show.