URBANA ? A University of Illinois sophomore is a reluctant beauty who is about to make the national scene.
With the exception of her roommate, her Delta Gamma sorority sisters don't even know about it.
Ashlee Vorachek, - daughter of Curt and Holli Vorachek of Springfield, is one of 25 semifinalists in Cosmopolitan magazine's national cover model search. It is an impressive feat when you consider there were more than 5,000 entries.
The April magazine showing her and the 24 other semifinalists goes on sale Tuesday.
Judges from the magazine and people who access the Cosmopolitan.com Web site to vote will narrow the field to four finalists, who will be flown to New York City to pose for professional photographs. The final round of voting will start July 4. The ultimate winner will be featured on a fall cover of the magazine.
The 20-year-old, dark-blonde, blue-eyed Vorachek has never entered any beauty contests, but she has had a taste of entertainment exposure.
?I was a dancer and in a ballet company in high school,? she said. ?I enjoyed being on the stage and taught ballet, jazz and tap.?
?A lot of people have told me, you should try it (modeling); ?You look like a Barbie,'? Vorachek said. ?I don't mean to brag.?
But winning a modeling competition is not all-important to her.
?I don't want to do it as a career but maybe on the side,? she said.
Now she is more involved with scientific pursuits. She is majoring in molecular and cellular biology and pre-dental courses. Her goal is to be an orthodontist.
?For awhile, I wanted to be a doctor, but the hours are not good,? she said. ?I want to have a family, and working in dentistry is better than being on call.?
Vorachek is a James Scholar, which means she maintains at least a 3.5 grade average, can sign up for classes early and does an honors project every semester.
Once a week she and a classmate teach a science lesson to fourth graders at Leal Elementary School in Urbana. She also is a member of the Illini Emergency Medical Services, a volunteer group that provides first aid and CPR for campus events.
She is a member of the Pre-Dental Club and the Alpha Lambda Delta freshman honor society and serves as recruitment chairwoman for her sorority.
But none of those accomplishments were part of the magazine competition.
She said, ?All I had to fill out were my measurements, hair color and eye color ? no activities, interests or grades ? and submit four pictures: with a serious look and smiling, both close-up; a swimsuit full-length picture; and a picture in a short black dress.?
?My mom took the pictures; they were just snapshots,? she said.
It was her mother who told her about the contest in the first place, during winter break.
?She said, ?You and your sister should just try it,' ? Ashlee said. ?My sister is a senior in high school. She's taller than me. I was saying, ?Oh, Courtney, you have such a better chance than me.' We were both, like, encouraging each other and we both ended up entering.?
Vorachek, who is 5 foot 5, got the call from a magazine spokeswoman when she was back on campus.
?I was talking on the phone with my mom, and doing laundry, when all of a sudden I got another call,? she said. ?I said, ?Are you sure this isn't a prank call?' Then my phone died; it was a cellphone. I ran upstairs, plugged it into a charger and she (the magazine woman) called me back.?
?My mom is pretty excited,? Vorachek said. ?I told her not to tell anyone, that it was kind of like a ?Survivor' thing where we're supposed to keep it secret until the magazine comes out, but she'd already told some people.?
You can reach Lynda Zimmer at (217) 351-5224 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.