Supermodel Sara Ziff to Graduate from Columbia University

May 09, 2011

As the daughter of a lawyer and a biochemistry professor, a modeling career was not something supermodel Sara Ziff ever considered. But as a freshman walking home from Bronx Science, she was approached by a fashion photographer. Fourteen years later Ziff, who has been the face of Stella McCartney and has walked for Prada, Alexander McQueen, and Chanel, to name a few, will graduate from GS with a Bachelor of Arts on May 16.

Ziff enrolled at Columbia University School of General Studies in 2006 where she joined a growing community of high-fashion models while she balanced her high-profile career.

“As a model, you are expected to accommodate an unpredictable, last minute work schedule so it can be daunting to commit to higher education. Returning to school, however, has enriched everything I’ve done in my career and created so many new possibilities,” Ziff said.

While enrolled at Columbia GS, Ziff, a political science major, became interested in labor movements and community organizing, which helped reframe her view of the modeling industry. This reflective view of her industry led Ziff to co-direct the award-winning, documentary film Picture Me, which takes a behind-the-scenes look at the modeling industry, and also led her to begin work on the formation of a trade organization for models. 

“This spring, I began working with the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University School of Law to form the Model Alliance, a non-profit organization that would establish basic rights and improve working conditions for models. Without the breadth and flexibility of a Columbia GS education and the support of key Columbia faculty members, I would not have developed my intellectual curiosity in this emerging legal field,” Ziff said.

After graduation, Ziff will continue to focus on the establishment of the Model Alliance while she continues to model. She is also interested in graduate or law school.


About the Columbia University School of General Studies
The Columbia University School of General Studies (GS) is the premier liberal arts college in the United States for nontraditional students seeking a rigorous, traditional, Ivy League undergraduate education. GS students take the same courses, study with the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all other undergraduates at Columbia University.

Christina Gray
Associate Director of Communications
(212) 851-4386
[email protected]