Local woman gets past first-round cuts of national model search

Thomas Garcia

A Tucumcari woman advanced to the top 100 in a national model search contest.

Cassie Huffman, a mental health counselor who teaches a psychology class at Mesalands Community College, survived the first cut in the Maurice’s Main Street Model Search.

“Thank you all,” Huffman said. “Without your votes, I would not have made it this far.”

Huffman was one of 1,400 women who entered the contest, with more than 128,800 online voters paring down the selections.

“We are very pleased with the voter turnout for the second year,” said Brad Hartmann, Maurice’s vice president of marketing, noting a three-fold increase in votes from 2011. “We hope the selected models are as excited as we are to move on to the next stage of our contest.”

Huffman said she had tried previous modeling searches when she was younger but they never panned out. She decided to concentrate on academics, and graduated with her master’s in clinical counseling last May from Eastern New Mexico University. She is currently employed at Mesa Counseling.

Huffman said when she learned about the contest, she spoke with her family and got full support.

“At my job and when I am teaching I encourage people to go for it,” Huffman said.“I figured I need to practice what I preach.”

The remaining 100 contestants will hope to make two more cuts. Judges will view a video submission, and choose 20 to attend a casting call in Minneapolis, Minn., in the third week of April.

A judging panel from Maurice’s, including a to-be-announced celebrity and stylist Christopher Straub of “Project Runway,” will select 12 winners on April 23.

Winners will receive a photo shoot, exposure through the company, a $1,500 gift card for the store and a $7,500 makeover for a hometown nonprofit.

Model profiles are available at www.