We couldn‘t think of a better person than Athena (aka @astroathens) to feature as Hello Bezlo’s Space Role Model! She is living proof that you don’t have to choose between the arts, science, and fashion…because why choose when you can have it all?! While earning her degree in Astrophysics, Athena didn’t shy away from pursuing her passions in the arts. She is now a model, science communicator, actress, dancer, and space enthusiast who dreams of going to space! Athena is a true inspiration, as she paves the way for young girls to pursure their dreams…even if they have many! We had some time to ask Athena a few questions about balancing her passions, and why space is just so fascinating!
Hi, Athena! We are so excited to feature you as our Space Role Model! We are so impressed by all of the different hats you juggle. Tell us, how did your interests in both the arts and sciences lead you to become both a model and astronomy activist?
I was on stage since age 3, and looking through a telescope since age 11. My interest in the arts lead me to modeling, and the natural curiosity of being human lead me to my passion and studies in astrophysics. When I went to college I jumped straight into the field of research in astrophysics, while at the same time trying to pursue my acting, modeling and dance career – that was the moment I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the sciences, but in a different way. That’s what lead me down the path of becoming a science communicator.
It’s great that you are able to balance your passions of modeling and astronomy! What fascinates you most about studying astronomy?
The size of it! The topics in astronomy research are so massive, it just shows how large and mysterious our universe is. Dr. Charles Liu, my Astronomy 101 professor in college, really inspired me to study astronomy.
How inspirational! What is the coolest thing to have happened to you along this journey?
Being invited by NASA to attend and do coverage of a rocket launch!
We just love your style! Does astronomy have an influence in your fashion sense?
YES – first off, stars and sparkles everywhere! I also love designs that have constellations and stars on them – it’s so chic and feminine, and super geeky too!
We love sparkles and stars, too! We think fashion is a great way for Bezlo Girls to show off their love of science! What do you think are young girls’ biggest challenges when it comes to developing an interest in STEM fields?
A huge thing for me when I was younger was my friends, classmates, and who I surrounded myself with. You want to be like your friends and be accepted by them…it’s just a natural human trait of wanting to fit in, especially when you are a child and have yet to develop a sense of knowing exactly who you are and being confident in that. That being said, the youth often follow each other, and statistically girls tend to be less involved with subjects in the STEM field. It has to come from inspiration — children have to feel motivated to pursue something. If science isn’t prominent early in their life and it doesn’t seem “cool”, then the majority of kids won’t want to pursue it, and this goes for both genders. It’s great to have idols to look up to, but many times we don’t know about these idols (like Nobel Prize-winning scientists) until much later in our schooling. By then, a lot of students may have gone down a different path of life because someone else was more trendy (like on Instagram) and became their idol before a scientist did. Scientists are busy being scientists — they don’t always have free time to self-promote, so they don’t get a large reputation with kids that spend most of their time learning about other things like sports, fashion, beauty, or arts — this is fine, but it just outnumbers science fields.
This is exactly why Hello Bezlo is excited to feature Role Models like yourself! Finally, what is your advice to young girls who are interested in space or dream about having a career in astronomy?
Keep saying “I’M GOING TO SPACE.” I do everyday. It’s an affirmation for myself and no one will get in the way of that. Don’t be bothered if you are the unique one of your friends who wants to study space or astronomy, and if you have a team of friends that want to do it too–well rock on! It’s a small field, but growing, so take advantage of that and get involved in astronomy groups and get to know the language and the people in the field and become one of them. If you ever feel weird because you might feel out numbered in anyway, either because of your age, gender, race, religion, whatever it is, embrace it, you are in the field because you LOVE the field, focus on the universe after all that’s what you want to study, not the people in it. 🙂
Such inspirational words from an amazing role model! We couldn’t have said it better: embrace your passions because you LOVE them, and not for any other reason…because things fall into place when you follow your passions. We’ll see you in space, Athena!