The 22-year-old didn't mind her teaching job, but it was bringing in peanuts compared with what she could make twerking on Vine for her 2 million followers.
"What I make in six seconds would take me four months to make as a teaching assistant," she told Barcroft TV.
Though she won't reveal specifically what she earns, she said it's in the six figures and was enough to buy a new car, pay it off in full, and pay off all of her student loans.
The money comes from advertisers paying her to mention their products in some of her videos.
"Either I make money on the internet, I make money doing these videos, or I'm going to be broke and jobless," she said.
But it's not all glamour for a Vine celebrity, and Vanessa says that she's been bullied online for her decision, and has had "breakdowns" over nasty comments.
"I'm not a celebrity but I do get a taste of what they have to go through — I have strangers calling me a whore, people calling me fat, people calling me ugly, people saying just about any mean thing you could say," she told the Daily Mail.
She added, "People like to define you as a whore for twerking, but it's just a type of dance — that's it. If people were open-minded they would understand that."
But at least she has her family's support: Her brother is her cameraman, and though at first her dad struggled with her career, now he says, "I even joked around one time telling her that I want to do one with her."
Vanessa says about her family, "They're very open-minded people — they don't look at it in any type of sexual way, they don't look at it as degrading, they're very supporting."
The viral Viner said she could even twerk in front of her grandmother "and she'd be like, 'Oh yeah, girl!'"
It seems like for Vanessa, twerking is closer to her childhood dreams than teaching ever was.
"As a little girl I always wanted to be somebody big," she said. "I always wanted to entertain people."
Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Rachel Zarrell at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.