4 December 2020
Are you familiar with the modern-day Leonardo Da Vinci from your freshman year art course, or the model student from Biology GT? Many students are a part of that stereotype: being naturally gifted in the creative arts, whether that be storytelling, poetry, or painting masterpieces in their spare time, or that science enthusiast — being an aspiring doctor or chemist with a knack for anatomy. But what about people who don’t align themselves with one area or the other? Contrary to popular belief, there are Leonardo Da Vincis who dream of becoming Nobel Prize winners, as well as 4.0 GPA science nerds who attend poetry club meetings in their spare time.
“I feel like I’m kind of a 50/50 split sometimes, with this creativity in the STEM thing. So I do feel fortunate that I have such a love of biology,” remarked senior Nikki Farnham, president of Pre-Med and the French and Art Honors Societies. “I still feel such a strong pull towards the creative careers, like an artist and an architect. So I won’t lie. I won’t say that, you know, my heart is 100% dedicated to biology, because although I love it, I love art as well!”
In a world where STEM careers lead to higher salaries and often more chances of economical success, many students fall into interests and hobbies in elementary, middle and high school that line up with science, engineering, technology or mathematics — whether that be something such as robotics, MESA, Legos, or something else. However, many of these students don’t have as much opportunity to showcase their talents in terms of creativity, especially past the elementary school phase where art isn’t a class students are required to take. Those talented in these arts may not even have the free time to indulge in them once middle and high school rolls around.
Someone who balances STEM elements alongside being a creative muse is the lead guitarist to Queen: Brian May. Born in Hampton, England, he spent his younger years studying mathematics and physics at the Imperial College of London and soon graduated with a Bachelor degree in physics with honors. One year after Queen was formed and three years before his former band Smile was founded, he continued to invest in the college during his education — even going as far as to decline an offer by the Jodrell Bank Observatory during Smile’s performances to avoid breaking up the band as to have enough free time. By the end of his long relationship with the college, he was rewarded with a Ph.D. in astrophysics long after the retirement of Queen, giving him the accumulative experiences of both career paths. In a quote from the guitarist himself during an interview with CNBC, he commented, “I think music is about our internal life. It’s part of the way people touch each other. That’s very precious to me. And astronomy is, in a sense, the very opposite thing. Instead of looking inwards, you are looking out, to things beyond our grasp.”
If you wanted to take an example from someone straight from Atholton, who knows what it’s like on the opposite end of said spectrum — someone who focuses primarily on STEM but isn’t afraid to hold back on her creative hobbies is senior Nikki Farnham. Farnham is someone who aspires to be a leading role in society, thanks to STEM, while holding onto her creative interests with little sacrifice of passion. She discussed having the logical function of assessing a situation, but also the simultaneous mix of feeling it before making the right decisions, which helps her progress in her courses. She went on to explain:
“I’m choosing STEM — does that mean I have to give up some of my creative passions? And, you know, I realized that absolutely not, I do not have to give up any of these things.”
At the end of the day, one never has to give up one passion for the other and such supposedly different things can be managed with the right mindset. Despite the pressure to pick either STEM or a more creative passion in terms of career, hobbies and future interests, it’s evident that there is never a need to be stressed over it and completely sacrifice one for the other.