Out and About

Meet LGBTQ Student Leader Malcolm Lewis

In recognition of LGBTQ pride month, meet one of Tandon's student leaders and a member of the LGBTQ community. Malcolm Lewis knows what it’s like to be a member of a maligned and marginalized group. “You would not believe the things people from the other boroughs say about those of us from Staten Island,” the Port Richmond native asserts. “They act as though it isn’t even a part of New York City!”

Despite the supposed ignominy of hailing from what is sometimes called “the forgotten borough,” Lewis has settled fully into life at Tandon, both academically and socially. “I was one of those kids who was always taking apart toys to discover how they worked,” they recall (please note, Lewis prefers the non-gender-specific plural pronoun, rather than the masculine singular). “So it seemed natural to study things like physics in an attempt to discover how the world itself works.”

Now a third-year student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, they're working under the direction of Professor Mike Knox to build a microphone that will allow orthopedic surgeons to know when drilling too far into bone matter. “I had already absorbed the importance of invention and innovation, but Professor Knox has gotten me excited about entrepreneurship as well.” Lewis says. “I would never have thought of myself in those terms, but I’m beginning to see the possibilities.”

Whatever future career path they choose, Lewis will undoubtedly be helped along the way by their warmth, infectious laugh, and friendliness. Described by sources as “one of those kids who knows absolutely everyone,” they rarely make it across the MetroTech plaza without encountering fellow students with whom to share a quick chat (quite possibly about Staten Island), a wave, or just a smile. They're also a well-recognized figure on Washington Square, where they're involved with the NYU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Student Center. “The program administrator of the center, Lukas La Riviere, has been a wonderful resource, and we’re going to start planning more events here in Brooklyn as a result,” Lewis explains. “And Jacob Seelbach, the Residence Hall Assistant Director, has been another great support as the dorm director located at Othmer, who's actively working to create a more inclusive environment within the dorms and greater engineering community.”

In an effort to make sure others have the resources and support they need, Lewis  as the president, is working hard with the e-board members of the NYU chapter of oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), a national student organization devoted to fostering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and asexual (LGBTQA) leaders in the STEM fields. (The Q in the acronym is sometimes defined as “questioning,” while the A can also be used to denote “ally.”) Lewis hopes to see oSTEM at NYU grow and hints that many fun and exciting activities are in the works for next semester.

According to Campus Pride (the leading national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create safer, more LGBTQ-friendly learning environments at colleges and universities), NYU rates a perfect 5 out of 5 for institutional commitment as well as student life. Being out has never been an issue for Lewis at the School of Engineering. “I might get some pushback about being from Staten Island, but not about being queer,” they laugh. “There’s a growing understanding in the engineering fields that diverse teams are needed to problem-solve more effectively, so I’ve often found this a welcoming and inclusive place.”