Walking the runway at this month’s International Fashion Catwalk in Los Angeles, United States, is a long way from where Tina Mukasa came from.
The former Notre Dame College student, also known as Fitina Maulidi, will represent Australia at the event, which will also set the record for the world’s longest runway.
But for Ms Mukasa, 20, the bright lights of Los Angeles are a world away from her upbringing in the Congo.
‘‘For me, it’s a dream come true,’’ she said.
Ms Mukasa’s early years were not easy. She lost her mother as a result of war and was raised in a refugee camp.
‘‘I want to encourage every person to never give up on their dreams... dreams do come into reality if you work hard for it,’’ she said.
And working hard is exactly what Ms Mukasa has done since arriving in Shepparton, having taken on a number of youth leadership roles and initiatives as well as making a name for herself in pageants.
In 2016, Ms Mukasa was selected as a National ABC Heywire Regional Youth Summit winner to share her stories, ideas and opinions in parliament.
Last year, Ms Mukasa was named among the top 15 state finalists in the Miss World Australia competition as well as a finalist in Miss Fashion Week Australia.
Also a passionate vlogger on YouTube, Ms Mukasa said she was discovered by photographer Robbie Merrit via her YouTube channel, leading to her catwalk appearance in LA this month, which will be more than 3.3km long.
‘‘Robbie Merritt is one of Australia’s most renowned portrait and celebrity fashion photographers,’’ she said.
‘‘He was kind enough to introduce me to award-winning Perth fashion designer Azulant Akora.’’
Ms Mukasa will walk in a creation by Azulant Akora, who was among the 20 designers from 13 countries who were selected to showcase their collections at the LA event on April 19.
‘‘On my return from LA, I will also work with Robbie Merritt for a supermodel experience in Melbourne for three days,’’ she said.
And after ticking this dream off her list this month, Ms Mukasa said she hoped to one day be on the cover of Vogue magazine, walk for fashion houses Chanel and Versace and meet her idols Naomi Campbell, Rhianna and Tyra Banks.
‘‘I hope to make my family and the Shepparton community proud in LA,’’ she said.
To follow Tina Mukasa’s journey, visit her YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCf4UTb ZugnH2-OvsDqFhJlw