"IN THE WORDS of Marilyn Monroe, ‘I’m just a girl who wishes for the world,’” Autumn says. While that may be true, Autumn Greco, a freshman here at Stanford, does a whole lot more than that. At just 17 years old, she has conducted cancer research, modeled in print and in commercials, and written for numerous publications. She has gracefully balanced all her interests in a stunning pre-career before even setting foot on campus.
When she was 9 years old, Autumn signed with Wilhelmina Models, where she learned the value of professionalism. Already the most well-spoken (and best dressed) kid on the block, she aspired to become an oncologist. Years later she began doing research on Acute Myeloid Leukemia at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, where she became very interested in the work of medical data visualization.
Autumn got hooked on science and discovery in her first research lab. She was using microscopy to collect data on leukemia, and all she had left to do was wait for a light to flicker to conclude the experiment. She spent four hours standing alone in a pitch-black room, waiting for the glimmering fluorescence that would make her research worth the wait. Autumn closed her eyes and took a deep breath, remembering her mentor’s parting words: “science is 95% frustration, and 5% success.” When she opened her eyes, the neon light she had been hoping to see emanated from the microscope, and her first research trial was successful. Her arms shot up above her head, and she experienced an entirely new type of excitement. To this day she gets the recurring reminder that “when you’re feeling frustrated, a lot of the time something really incredible is coming your way,” Autumn says.
Everything she does is uniquely her own. She maintains a personal brand that persists throughout all that she does. She describes herself as having the “West Coast aesthetic, with an East Coast mindset.” Her style is urban and preppy. She loves thrifting, but spent the summer at New York Fashion Week hopping from runway to runway. Her favorite piece right now is a secondhand Google t-shirt.
“IT’S VINTAGE AND CLASSIC,”
“TWO WORDS YOU DON’T NORMALLY ASSOCIATE WITH TECH.”
Leave it to her to turn a Silicon Valley trope chic.
Her dream job is to be the real-life behind-the-scenes doctor consultant for a medical drama like Grey’s Anatomy, because “if there is accurate information in mainstream television, people will be more aware of their health.” Her favorite daily reads are WebMD articles - yes, WebMD articles.
Much of her interest in fashion came from working with stylists behind the scenes of photoshoots as a teenager. “Modeling is sort of the opposite of science,” Autumn says. “In research you’re looking through a microscope, but in modeling you’re the one under a microscope.” While modeling has taught her invaluable lessons like accepting rejection and working with others, she believes its focus is largely superficial. But, in an act of maturity beyond her years, she has used her public image to speak out and encourage others to pursue what they love.
The most important thing for Autumn is turning passion into action. Showcasing her interests has opened a lot of unexpected doors. Until recently, STEM wasn’t highlighted in mainstream media. Now, teen magazines and major media outlets are showing how cool it is to love math, science, and tech, and not be judged for it.
“PEOPLE WILL QUESTION WHY YOU WOULD COMBINE AND PURSUE SOME OF YOUR INTERESTS. BUT WHY WOULDN’T YOU?”
says Autumn. People don’t typically imagine a scientist caring about style or fashion, but it’s important not to stereotype any career and the breadth it can have.
Keep an eye out for Autumn in some big upcoming projects. And now that she has Stanford and all its resources at her fingertips, we can only imagine what she will accomplish next.