“I am Lenay Demetrious,
the aspiring astronaut.
the computer scientist.
the radio personality.
the Shakespeare and Poe aficionado.
the Musk and Nye aficionado.
A brief look into my life as an artist: at three years old, I made my debut on The Ron and Fez Show, an adult comedy show that aired across the nation. By 11, I was the youngest podcast host ever on Sirius-XM satellite radio and I was auditioning for national commercials and major motion pictures. Throughout my high school career, I performed in a grand total of six theatrical productions and was selected as a national finalist for the 2014 English Speaking Union’s Annual Shakespeare Competition.
Today, at 18, I’m currently working on writing a TV series loosely based on my father’s experiences in 1980s New York City.
Although I was heavily immersed in the performing arts throughout my childhood, school was always important to me. I was always interested in science, particularly in space and the planets inside (and outside) our solar system. When people used to ask me, the young radio prodigy, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I shockingly admitted that I wanted to be a scientist. During high school, I excelled in my math and science classes and graduated as the valedictorian of my class as the only student heading off to an engineering school.
And that is where I am today. I’m currently working toward my bachelor’s degree as a Computer Science major at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and am in the beginning stages of creating a startup involving the medical use of micro chip technology. Moreover, I am currently earning my private pilot’s license and am working toward my primary goal— to become an astronaut.
To the outsider looking into my life, I must seem like I have no true focus, as I am involved in too many different interests; I am an artist, an aspiring astronaut, a writer, a (hopeful) startup owner, an entertainer fueled on creative thinking, and a scientist fueled on logical thinking. However, I don’t feel like I am at all that. I’m more of a paradox than a person lacking focus. I have many interests, yes, but they all more or less fall into the two ever-contrasting disciplines of art and science.
Many people tell me that in order to succeed in life, I must choose between these two disciplines. My peers at college tell me that I should not be an engineer if I have a passion for the arts as there is no room for the arts in the sciences. My high school art teachers have told me that I’m making a mistake not choosing to pursue the performing arts in college. I, however, beg to differ, and perhaps have a more enlightened mindset than the many who believe that the arts are to the sciences as oil is to water.
My immersion in the arts has equipped me skills needed to be successful in any science discipline in a way that no engineering or technical school ever can nor will. One of these skills is effective communication. Creative writing and theatrical rhetoric have helped me immensely to state my point and to do so precisely and elegantly, which is something that, in my experience, many young aspiring engineers and scientists struggle with. To a person primarily interested in math and science, communication skills are beyond their realm of logical thinking. A person who thinks in algorithms and binaries day in and day out will struggle, therefore, in crafting elegant sentences and speaking their native language confidently and effortlessly. However, a person who thinks in monologues and meter are more adept in this skill. Moreover, collaboration and comradery are skills that artists are forced to learn. In the majority of my career as an artist, I was always part of an ensemble, a group working as one— something eerily similar to a mission crew or a research team like the Collins-Miller Project.
And the list of these skills goes on and on. Going into engineering school, I had my regrets not pursuing my dream to be an astronaut and scientist full-time throughout my childhood.
But looking back now, I have no regrets. Because sometimes the unconventional path is the one best taken. And maybe one day, I’ll be known as the “Galactic Thespian”.”
While well versed in many different fields, Lenay continues to pursue her dreams in both the arts and the scientists. Like many others, she continues to fight against the idea that science and art are two entirely separate entities. While upholding’s a rigorous daily schedule and continuous hard work, Lenay finds time to search for the beauty and synchrony in science and mathematics- a talent she hopes others can learn greatly from. In a world with so many problems to solve, Lenay’s “Renaissance Woman” or “Jack of all trades” aspect might just save lives and break boundaries on the scientific frontier. Her journey is a constant reminder to many that you don’t just have to be good at one thing- and it is your many talents that might save the world!