Athena is an international model, actress and amateur astronomer from New York City with a passion in both the arts and the sciences.

Athena was first introduced to astronomy in middle school by her best friend giving her a picture book of the cosmos. When she began high school, she took astronomy class at the school’s planetarium in Brooklyn. Once she began studying at her college, CUNY: College of Staten Island, she had the pleasure of taking Dr. Charles Liu’s Astronomy 101 class. Dr. Liu is head of the astronomy and physics departments and the Verrazano School honor’s program at the College of Staten Island. Ending the semester, Athena was offered to conduct research with Dr. Liu at the American Museum of Natural History’s very own Hayden Planetarium, while under a NASA space grant. From 2009-2012 she gave multiple presentations on her research to Ph.D’s in astrophysics, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, who she later had the honor of being advised by.  These presentations took place at the museum and at her college, with topics focusing on Proto-Planetary disks (mentored by Dr. Liu) and brown dwarfs (mentored by Dr. Kelle Cruz).

New York fashion photographer Joseph Paradiso Yuki NYC

While conducting research, Athena had begun working in the fashion industry through friends and agents that scouted her. She booked her first fashion show, Michael Anthony NYFW ’12, from a casting that a friend referred, directly after she was approached by multiple agencies. She signed a modeling contract in NYC and right away the opportunities began to roll in. Trying to balance modeling jobs, her research, school, and a part time job, she realized one of those things had to give. While at the Hayden’s research offices, Neil deGrasse Tyson walked by to go to his office. He and Athena began to speak about her research but quickly got on the topic of her dilemma with being torn between the sciences and the arts. Athena will always remember the day Dr. Tyson and her mentor Dr. Liu put it all into perspective for her: “the universe and school will always be here. Try one thing, and if it fails you always have somewhere else to turn.” Since that day Athena began her journey of modeling in over 7 countries, pursuing her career as an on-screen actress booking multiple TV commercials and shows, and even continuing her dance training.

Now, Athena continues her artist career based in her home city of New York. She is an activist for both the arts and sciences by giving talks and helping mentor new students in college and the research programs at the American Museum of Natural History. She often is called in by her first professor and mentor, Dr. Liu, to help motivate his new students to pursue both the arts and sciences. These students’ majors range from physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy to social sciences and performing arts students. Her goal is to inspire those who may feel torn, stuck, or fearful to take that leap of faith into a world outside their norm; to not lose hope when feeling overwhelmed with too many paths to take, because sometimes trying what seems impossible really is the way to finding a sole purpose in this universe.