By Ilvea Lezama
At an early age, she knew she was going to make an impact in the world. At the age of seven, she wrote her first poem. By doing so, she manifested what her future would look like.
“I wish I could be a star …. If I was a star, I’d sing beautiful songs and happiness I’d bring.”
Being a star is exactly what our own York Radio Operator and Announcer, Lisa Ray, has been doing. Her journey has been arduous, but that has made her who she is today. In February of 2016, after visiting a NeuroMuscular Specialist following episodes of slurred speech and losing her balance, she was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). What is MS? It is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Before this diagnosis, Ray had gone from physician to physician trying to figure out why this was happening. After countless tests, MRIs, unexplained weakness, etc., no one gave her a justifiable reason why she was feeling the way she was feeling.
Little did she know that that would be the beginning of her story, the story that is making history. Born in Long Island but raised in Jamaica, Queens, Ray defines herself as a warrior. Ray is a radio engineer, editor, host, DJ, poet, singer, writer, comedy promoter, and advocate. While she is a woman who holds many titles, her favorite title is being a mother. All those titles did not come easy to her. Ray was once part of a music group in the 80s alongside two of her friends. The group was called Delicious, and they went on to record two songs produced by American singer-songwriter Teddy Riley. Music runs in her blood; her father was from South Georgia, and he loved soulful music, and her mother was from Puerto Rico and loved to sing in church. She recalls both being great cooks and having freshly cooked meals on the table every day, music always being around the house.
“My mom had an amazing voice,” said Ray. “I remember I used to imitate her when she sang.”
Growing up as the youngest of three siblings, she remembers having a great childhood going to amusement parks, museums, and more. At a young age, she started working with her uncle, a dentist. She assisted him by taking x-rays and making appointments. She has always had the mentality of a hustler. Immediately after high school, she wanted to go to college, but financially it was too much for her and her family as her mom had just become ill.
But Ray did not want to just stay with her high school diploma. Therefore, she signed up as a part-time student at York college while working full-time to pay her way through college. With all the adversities she encountered, she made a name for herself in the finance world by working on Wall Street for 30 years while being a single mother to her son. Unfortunately, after the market crashed in 2008, she was laid off. But Ray did not let that stop her from continuing to make a name for herself. She formerly hosted a radio show in the late eighties on WNWK and is currently co-hosting and producing a radio show that airs once each month on the last Sunday of the month, RADIO1WORLDFESTGLOBAL. This internet show voices and concerns about “global cultural awareness/acceptance, diversity, tolerance, and inclusion.”
As a DJ, an MC, she took all her knowledge, charisma, and positive energy to YCRadio (York College Radio) when she joined in October of 2017 and ever since has been making an impact in the life of the students who intern at the YCRadio. While working at YCRadio, Ray has published her first book of poems. Throughout her life, she has written over fifty poems which you could read in her book Angel’s Heart guided by light sold on amazon. She dedicated this book to her family, who have always supported her. She is also the co-author and contributing author of the book The Reveal: An anthology featuring 10 new authors, also sold on Amazon.
“Writing is therapeutic; it has been a healing process for me, a way to cope,” Ray stated. “Life is poetic,” she said.
After becoming ill with MS, Ray became an angel for the MS community. Her foundation has been a blessing and a voice for everyone in the MS community. She has become an angel with Angels Hearts of Hope Foundation Inc. The mission of her foundation is to know there is still hope.
“I want the world to know not to count us out. We are here. Our goal is to help those who need us, to inspire them,” Ray said. “I say what people wish they could say, God, put me in this position for a reason.”
The foundation provides resources to the MS community and helps students with MS by providing them with scholarships. She wants to continue fighting for the disabled community. She wants to continue being an advocate for them because the way people with disabilities get treated is unfair. Lisa Ray is a woman of many talents, a woman who has overcome all adversity to still give back to those who need her support. She wants to dedicate this article to her sister Maria Jamie Ray (2/25/62 – 8/24/2021), her sister, her best friend, a woman who became her mother figure when her mother passed away. If you would like to know more about Lisa Ray and her journey as an MS survivor. Visit her foundation’s Facebook page at Angels Hearts for Hope Foundation Inc. and her Instagram page at Thereal_LisaRay.