Advice from the ocean: A Broadreach student’s journey
By: Leah Henseler, Broadreach alumna October 12, 2020 High School Adventures, Middle School, Parents, Scuba, Marine Biology
Since she was a kid, Broadreach alumna Leah has devoted a lot of her time, passion and exponential curiosity to two major areas: marine science and art.
“I started diving when I was 12,” she said. “I am an artist during the school year and a diver during the summer.”
She had the chance to dive recreationally around the world when traveling with her family, and has used her Broadreach adventures as a way to expand her scuba diving knowledge, learn more about scientific diving and, of course, meet new friends who are passionate about the same things she is.
“A big value for me was the breadth of experience and the sheer number of dives,” Leah said. “In Bali, we got to do more coral conservation and shark conservation work, which led me to where I am now when it comes to scientific diving and conservation work.”
When she’s not diving, Leah spends a lot of her time in the woodshop in her garage, moving steadily toward more sculptural mediums. She started thinking more about the scientific aspects of these projects, and gradually started incorporating aspects of biology and plant cells into her art. Leah now consistently uses the environment as inspiration for her art, making more and more sculptures inspired by coral polyps, marine life structures and more from the underwater world.
“I’ve always been enchanted by the ocean and coral landscapes,” she said. “When I started diving, I realized how similar the coral and structures are, and how they correspond to the principles of design, repetition and colors. It’s like an underwater gallery of art.”
Leah wants to see art be more incorporated into marine science studies. She said that art is underutilized in terms of sharing data and scientific findings, and wants more people to see data in tangible ways, such as sculptures. Through this passion, she realized how few interdisciplinary resources exist for marine sciences, pushing her to want to study this concept in college. Ultimately, she hopes to also create underwater sculptures that benefit marine ecosystems.
Leah, now 17, just published a book alongside her mother about this very concept of interdisciplinary study, titled “Advice from the Ocean.”
“I wanted to get across with this book that there isn’t just one single path for students,” she said. “Innovation comes when you don’t stick to a single path. I want to use different disciplines and combine things that people haven’t thought of yet. I’ve been told to be a marine biologist and do art as a hobby. When people restrict themselves, they lose passion – this allows me to keep all aspects of myself.”
As she moved forward in her interdisciplinary journey, Leah said that having support around her allows her to push forward. Her family supports her artistic endeavors and encourages her to embrace her Broadreach adventures.
Her advice? Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, and don’t let other people sway your decisions – listen to yourself, and really dive into what you’re passionate about.