Most people think of the Academy Awards as a night to recognize movie stars, producers and directors for their achievementsthroughout the year. However, for Ysabella Esponda, a well-regarded stylist, this time of year means business, a six-figure business that is.

She is responsible for everything — down to the choice of toenail polish — that Hollywood’s A-List will be wearing while parading down the red carpet. Her choices, whether they are good or bad, will be talked about by the media for multiple weeks after the awards, but with her many years of experience and schooling in the fashion industry, Esponda is expected to put together some of the best ensembles of the night.

High ambitions, such as Casa Grande High senior Ysabella Esponda’s, often are struck down by a simple, one-page college rejection letter, causing career plans to change and demoralizing the aspiring high school senior. But for Esponda, an early acceptance into the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising has allowed her to become more focused on her dream of becoming a red carpet fashion stylist.

“I’ve wanted to go to FIDM since eighth grade,” Esponda said. “They have majors ranging anywhere from fashion design to interior design, and four campuses: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. I plan on attending the San Francisco campus for a year and then transferring down to L.A.”

Unlike most high school seniors who applied to colleges last fall, Esponda applied in 2011 for early admission, partly because of her adviser’s encouragement.

In applying to be a merchandising and marketing major, “I had to write an essay, do a project corresponding to the major and get three letters of recommendation,” she said.

“My adviser encouraged me to apply early, and at first I wasn’t sure because I wanted to make sure that my grades were where they needed to be. I didn’t want to apply and not be ready and then not get accepted. But then she convinced me that I should apply.”

Danielle Walker, Esponda’s event-planning teacher and adviser of the fashion club, supported her decision to apply early and recognizes she has worked extremely hard to gain acceptance.

“Bella is extremely dedicated to her career choice,” Walker said. “She seems very interested in fashion and is very knowledgeable about the trends in the industry. She is definitely committed to becoming a stylist.”

The application process for FIDM went further than many traditional college applications, requiring an interview with an acceptance officer.

“It was really nerve-wracking going to the interview, but they ended up being super nice,” Esponda said. “At the end of the interview, I was told that they really wanted me to come to the school and also told that I was the second junior to be accepted out of all the campuses. That was really awesome.”

Esponda always has been interested in the fashion industry and chose FIDM because of the programs they offer for her selected major and, ultimately, her career as a fashion stylist or store buyer. However, she recently expanded her experience in the industry through various modeling jobs.

“Everyone has always told me that I should model,” Esponda said. “I love the fashion industry, but I was never into taking pictures in front of people. But then I decided to try it. Modeling has been a great opportunity to learn both sides of the industry: Not just to be the one taking the picture, or styling, but the one in the clothes, and to know how they feel.”

Despite Esponda’s growing experience in modeling, she does not plan on pursuing it as a long-term career.

“I model, but I do not want to be a model; it’s just a step in the right direction of the fashion industry,” she said.

“I’m still young and there are many things that I want to try. I would love to have a lot of opportunities with internships because I’m not exactly sure what I want to do. Being a stylist for red carpet events or a big name magazine, that would be my ultimate goal.”

These stories are reprinted from Casa Grande High School’s Gaucho Gazette.