Athena Brensberger is an international model and science host. With a background in astrophysics and creative arts, Athena’s mission is to bridge the gap between entertainment and science. She believes science should be more prominent in the entertainment industry. She simultaneously pursued a modeling career and worked towards getting her PhD in Astrophysics. She is now a blogger, entertainer, and host for science-based events around the globe. She has an awesome website, astroathens.com which has amazing videos where she explains science topics in a fun way.
Our Interview with Athena:
Svaha: You are a woman of many talents and your career has included modeling, dance, and astrophysics. What connection do you see between your passions and what is your goal in bringing them together?
Athena: The connection is art and creativity. Science branched from creative thinking, so pursuing a career in any artistic industry is that of equal value to pursuing my career in the sciences especially astrophysics of all sciences!
Svaha: How did you first get interested in astronomy?
Athena: I was 12 years old and my best friend, Anika gave me a book on the cosmos and I thought the images in there were paintings until she told me that they were photos taken by something called the Hubble space telescope. And that those images are of things called nebulae and galaxies that are thousands to millions to billions of light-years away. It blew my mind and I said this is the ultimate career path to take.
Svaha: What are the toughest challenges you've faced in pursuing your career?
Athena: The toughest challenges were making decisions on what career to pursue. A big initial challenge was thinking that I wasn’t smart enough to be in the sciences, which actually directed me away from the science for a while and into my passion for the arts. But if it wasn’t for that self-doubt I wouldn’t have gone into my acting, modeling and dance career. The next challenge was trying to balance it all and finding a way to actually merge these careers. I refused to accept that I had to choose just ONE, from constantly bouncing between art and science I realized that juggling wasn’t the way to go about it so I created a new career path, one that wasn’t so traditional.
Svaha: What is your advice for our younger readers who want to pursue a career in astronomy?
Athena: SKILLSET! It is so important. Get to know the material and the history of astronomy. Spend as much time outdoors at night as possible and truly familiarize yourself with the night sky and if you are still in love with it and want to pursue it as a career then jump right in classes! Learn to track asteroids, learn to program or code and understand both the language of computers and of course the language of science. Build your community of supporters, the Astro community is actually not that big and you will find yourself meeting people with mutual connections and friends and it makes it even more fun! Get to know the different facilities around THE WORLD where you can do research. What topics intrigue you most in astronomy? Take your time in this last one because it will be ultimately your bigger decision to make, because it’ll be what you’ll want to conduct research in. Starburst galaxies? Quasars? Stellar formations? Take your time with this one and take up internships to find a GREAT mentor they can 100% help you in this decision and mentors are EVERYTHING! <3
Svaha: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
Athena: This is actually really tough because compliments are very uplifting and something as minor as saying I have a cool bag or something just lightens up my day! So I’d have to say the BEST compliment had to have been when I was in college and my mentor Dr. Charles Liu said to me that I was intelligent and passionate enough in astronomy that I should major in it (I was a Political Science major at the time), and that I was qualified enough to conduct research under NASA and NSF at the Hayden Planetarium with one of the most elite rewatch programs in the country at one of the most prestigious facilities for astrophysics research. I truly felt GOOD ENOUGH. If it wasn’t for that feeling I would’ve given up on science a long time ago due to that self-doubt I mentioned earlier. That compliment changed my life.