TEDxSantaCatalinaSchool went virtual for 2021 with a lineup of speakers that included two current students and an alumna. The event was presented over Zoom on April 28.
This year's theme was "Familiar Faces," and the speakers shared stories about how their work has been buoyed by the people around them.
The same can be said for the 36-student TEDxSCS team. Acknowledging that the event could not be held in person this year, co-heads Claire Nowak '22 and Carson Vogel '22 said, "Our Catalina community is what inspired us to continue forward despite the pandemic."
Here is a look at each of the day's speakers.
"Defeat is temporary, but giving up is what makes it permanent."
Indu has had a 20-year career as CEO, founder, board member, and investor of software companies. In 2019, after losing her husband to the neurological disease ALS, she formed the Peter Cohen Foundation, a nonprofit functioning as EverythingALS.org. Its mission is to bring researchers, providers, patients, patients' biomarkers, and data science together for early diagnosis and treatments of neurological diseases. Indu shared her journey from growing up in India to becoming an engineer to forming her own company, and how her entrepreneurial skills have helped her through a difficult period in life.
"How can you understand the people around you without understanding yourself?"
Nicole, a junior day student at Santa Catalina, talked about the life-changing experience she had with a virtual homestay program called Experiment Digital, through which she got to know other teenagers from the Middle East and North Africa. In learning about their lives, Nicole came to a better understanding of her own identity. The experience inspired her to create a nonprofit called Positive I, which aims to provide a space where youth can work together toward creating a world marked by understanding, respect, and acceptance.
Victoria Gorum '19
"Our voices are not being heard and our stories are not being told."
Victoria, a sophomore at Stanford University, helped form Diversify Our Narrative, a movement born out of the Black Lives Matter protests that advocated for at least one book by and about people of color to be incorporated into the high school curriculum. Diversify Our Narrative has since grown to see 6,000 high school students organize for change in their school districts, and the movement's mission has expanded to actively push for anti-racist education. Victoria talked about her experience as a Black child, how she had to start conceptualizing her race at a very young age, and how, after years of being conditioned to not talk about her skin color, she began to speak up about her identity.
"Persistence isn't about perfection. It is about committing yourself to what inspires you."
Heidi, a senior day student at Santa Catalina, shared how perseverance has fueled her drive to push beyond her insecurities and face and embrace the unfamiliar. She talked about how she grew in her leadership role as the head of Lamplighter, the student newspaper, by finding the courage to overcome her shyness, and how she redefined her limits while training for a triathlon.
"Everyone finds success in their lives, and it's never on their own."
Aaron became the first legally blind athlete to play football in a Division 1 game when he was at Tulane University, and he later went on to be an NFL free agent. Aaron, who has no vision in his right eye and very little in his left, began playing football in seventh grade and eventually found his niche as a long snapper. Highlighting the mentors and coaches who helped him along the way, his message was that despite one's perceived limitations, anything is achievable with hard work and perseverance.