Condition: Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)
1. What is your profession and why did you decide to choose this field?
I am currently a professional commercial print and fitness model with Grogan Management agency in Dallas, Texas and We Speak in New York. Moreover, I am a certified group fitness instructor and enjoy teaching weekly stretch classes. I am also a national public speaker and article writer for several magazines, sharing my story of learning to walk with strength and faith behind a white cane. I serve on several non-profit boards and regularly volunteers in her local community.
My mission is not only to successfully work as a model, who happens to have a visual impairment but also to empower women of all ages to step into their strength, regardless of their circumstances, with poise and courage.
2. What is the most rewarding thing about what you do?
The most rewarding thing about modeling is that it's an outlet for me to express my creativity, passion, and uniqueness while being challenged to be my best as a professional. I love meeting interesting people from all walks of life and watching them soon forget I am blind because I don't let it define me. I am good at what I do because I practice and work hard just like everyone else.
I use my modeling career as a way to empower others to choose strength and to not let circumstances decide who they become.
3. What is your advice to all the other VIPs around the world who don’t believe they can be successful in the area of their interest because of their disability?
My advice to others - take responsibility for your disability and don’t make your problem everyone else's’ problem. Equip yourself to compensate for your visual impairment, then work to be the best at it. Don’t expect to be handed your dreams just because you are blind. I have learned what it is to be humbled by tragedy and strengthened by resolve. I found my strength from pushing myself up off the floor then learning to rise with grace and a smile after falling. I will admit it has taken a lot of hard work to put my white cane out in front, step into my strength, being confident in who I am, knowing my limits, and still be a tender-hearted woman. For me, it is not about fighting against the darkness blindness brings; those are facts I can't change. But I can change how I approach the challenges and how I show up each day. I make a choice to show up strong, fearless - walking in the strength of my faith, dressed on point, and modeling a life that does more than just survive.
I am still in the driver’s seat of my own life, even though I don’t have a license!
Catherine Harrison’s photo taken by Julia Wagner at Feather and Root