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Lenina Mortimer ‘03

Lenina Mortimer ‘03
“I believe in BHSEC's core values. It provided me a platform to go to school, to learn.” Born in Brooklyn to parents of Haitian descent, Lenina Mortimer is a graduate of BHSEC Manhattan’s inaugural class, the Class of 2003. In 2006, she graduated from Stony Brook University with a B.S. in biology and, in 2010, she graduated from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in journalism. Lenina works as a multimedia producer and intends to begin graduate studies next year.

Lenina transferred to BHSEC after her sophomore year at Midwood High School in Brooklyn. "I loved it at Midwood. I was on the track team, I was doing well—things were really good." But, she mentions, "for all intents and purposes, I had already finished high school at Midwood. I was taking accelerated classes. There was nothing else for me to do. BHSEC came at an opportune moment, it filled in the gap about what to do next." 

When she arrived at BHSEC, Lenina was immersed in the college curriculum right away. The new environment and the new academic standards changed her outlook on learning. "The experience as a whole was so impactful. People cared about what I had to say." One memory especially stands out for being outside of the norm: early during her first semester at BHSEC, Lenina's seminar professor had lunch with the class. "It really struck me; I never had lunch with a professor. Seeing professors interact with students, that was different. It broke every norm."

Lenina’s peers shared her thirst for knowledge. "We were all very inquisitive and we came from very different backgrounds. What linked us was our interest in things and learning." 

After graduating from BHSEC, Lenina enrolled in Stony Brook University, where she transferred all 60 of her BHSEC credits. Lenina went from being part of a small cohort of students at BHSEC to being part of a large undergraduate class at the university. "The biggest difference between BHSEC and Stony Brook that I noticed was the class size. At BHSEC, I knew everyone and my professor knew me, but at Stony Brook, I didn't know my professors and my professors didn't know me." Although Stony Brook was radically different than BHSEC, BHSEC adequately prepared Lenina for the upper level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes necessary for her biology major at Stony Brook. "I took a lot of STEM courses at BHSEC, from Calc III to Chemistry. I was well prepared."

Although she had her goals set on a career in medicine, a post-undergraduate work experience changed her future plans. Her first job out of Stony Brook was an internship at a magazine that sparked her interest in studying journalism. After that internship, Lenina decided she wanted a change. She then enrolled in Brooklyn College and majored in journalism.

In her journalism career, Lenina has written articles and covered topics on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from arts and culture to politics. She has her mind set on being a leader in an international media organization.

Lenina is now a board member of the BHSEC Manhattan alumni association and works actively with a core group of graduates to organize events and keep alumni connected. "BHSEC was home—it's still home today. That’s why I keep coming back."