Ryley Lehew is a senior at the University Park campus of Pennsylvania State University. His major is Animal Science with a minor in Photography. Ryley enjoys all aspects of farming and working with all animal species.
Ryley has always been heavily involved in 4-H and continues that passion as the President of PSU’s Collegiate 4-H. He also serves as the treasurer for Students for Cultivating Change, a club that “provides a safe, inclusive network for students interested in agricultural sciences who are in the LGBTQA community,” and is also in the Pre-Vet Club. Ryley is a student in the university’s Schreyer Honors College.
This spring, Ryley received the Marc David Foundation Award, presented by PSU’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, for implementing an on-campus clothing exchange for other trans and nonbinary students.
Ryley has produced three series of art discussing intersectionality in different ways. “The self-portrait series entitled “Expectations” was recently selected to be a part of the ‘Exploring Identity, Language and Narrative’ instillation at the Keller Collective Gallery for the 2019-2020 school year,” Ryley said. “‘Expectations’ explores the internal battle one may experience when they fail to meet someone else’s expectations of who they should be. The remaining two series, ‘Be You’ and ‘Bumps in the Road,’ explore my personal struggle with identity through the use of objects. ‘Bumps in the Road’ utilizes a mannequin as self symbolism while ‘Be You’ contains images that each represent only one aspect of my identity tied together through the way they are produced.”
After graduating, Ryley plans to pursue a doctorate degree in Animal Science, Genetics, or Veterinary Medicine. He wants to work with farmers to produce a sustainable and healthy product for consumers.
In addition to photography, Ryley enjoys other creative arts such as soap making, jewelry making, and woodworking. He also breeds Boer Goats for 4-H youth.
Ryley scariest moment happened when he was young. He fell through a hay shoot in a friend’s barn into a pen of cattle — an extremely dangerous situation. Luckily, Ryley was not gravely injured. However, while having his leg x-rayed during the subsequent examination, the doctors discovered a massive tumor in his hip. Ryley endured multiple surgeries to repair his leg until he had a total hip replacement at age 14.
Ryley cites his own self-identity and the desire to give back as his main reasons for wanting to participate in Writing Wrongs 2019:
“[At] the Writing Wrongs program, I hope to gain a new perspective of Pennsylvania’s LGBT+ community. This new viewpoint would allow me to represent the community more accurately in future work. Working with others to comprise a book would allow for the exploration of different media that could also inspire future projects. In addition to the potential this opportunity has for me, I hope that this program will allow me to give back further to the community that taught me how to embrace my authentic self.”