The Conference Program

January 7th, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.* Music Hall, Lone Star College – Montgomery, 3200 College Park Drive, The Woodlands, TX, 77384

Here is a PDF version of our program: TEDxYouth@TheWoodlands Program

8:30 Registration

9:00 Welcome; Speakers and Performers

10:25 – 10:45 Refreshment Break and opportunity to mingle with the Speakers and Performers

10:45 – 11:45 Speakers and Performers

11:45 – 1:00 pm Lunch and opportunity to mingle with the Speakers and Performers

1:00 – 2:15 Speakers and Performers

2:15 – 2:30 Refreshment Break and opportunity to mingle with the Speakers and Performers

2:30 – 3:30 Speakers, Performers and pre-recorded TED talks

3:30 – 4:00 Refreshment Break and opportunity to mingle with the Speakers and Performers

4:00 – 5:10 Speakers, Performers and pre-recorded TED talks

5:10 – 5:30 Closing

* the conference organizers may revise the program as appropriate to ensure a successful conference

Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Albert Einstein –


Speakers and Performers


Youth Speakers and Performers (in alphabetical order)

Asha Raghu (Labay Middle School in Cypress-Fairbanks, TX) & Aishwarya Rawat (Harmony School of Advancement in Houston, TX) dance performers

title of performance:Do la re – Soaring SpiritsA very upbeat and optimistic theme where the dancers derive inspiration and joy through transformations in nature like rain and lightning aided by intricate dance moves and the rhythmic jingle of the anklets and bangles. The music is from a Bollywood movie called Devdas. Original choreography by Aishwarya and Asha.

Blake Hubbard & Danielle Pink-Bailey (Harmony Science Academy High in Houston, TX)
title of talk/demonstration: You Need to be Blind to See Clearly

Erin Kotlan (The Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, TX)

title of talk:The Dorcas Empowerment – Connecting Girls All Over the World

Fabian Fernandez-Han (home-schooled in The Woodlands, TX) and Khoren Ouzounian music performance

title of music performance:Spassky vs. Fischer – Confusion, Order, Checkmate…in D minorA dramatic yet whimsical transformation of the famous 1972 cold-war era chess match into an original piano composition by Fabian. Narrated by Fabian and performed by Khoren Ouzounian.

Gibraan Rahman (The Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, TX)

title of talk:Islamophobia – Breaking Stereotypes of Islam

Jaylon Jenkins (Carl Wunsche Sr. High School in Spring, TX)

title of talk: A Transformational Journey to Belize

LaTravion Golden (Carl Wunsche Sr. High School in Spring, TX)

title of talk: America: The Beauty & The Beast

Quanzel Caston (Carl Wunsche Sr. High School in Spring, TX)

title of talk: What is Patriotism

Rohit Raghu (Cy-Fair High School in Cypress-Fairbanks, TX)

title of talk: Inspiration through the eyes of a child

Taylor Cull (home-schooled and Lone Star College Montgomery in Conroe, TX)

title of talk: Ideal Learning Environment – where you can be in control of your own education

Tori Talac (Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, TX) music performer

title of performance: The Real Me” by Natalie Grant

Victor Cyrus (Carl Wunsche Sr. High School in Spring, TX)

title of talk: Living a Life of Meaning, Everyday


Adult Speakers and Performers (in alphabetical order)

Denise Lanier (WordPlay Poet and WordyGoodness Teacher) klepto-collaborative poet

title of presentation: The Intersection of Imagination & Possibility – new ways of seeing, reframing, interpreting the every day”  Also this video.

Kap McWhorter (Founder of Finding Heroes and Social Action Teacher at Humble ISD)

title of talk:Resetting the Default: Moving from Entitlement and Competition to Awareness and Compassion

Mario Salinas (President of Progresista Voter Union and of Latino Giving Houston and former City Hall Fellow)

title of talk: Transcending Negative Labels, Stereotypes and Expectations: A Houstonian’s Life Lessons for his Changing City

Matthew Thompson (Social Innovator and Undergrad at University of Texas at Austin)

title of talk: Water Around the World

Matthew Williams (Freelance Tutor of Philosophy and Undergrad at Lone Star College Montgomery)

title of talk: Language Imperfect: An Autistic View of Social Norms

Nicole Minor (Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Pangea Network)

title of talk: A World Where Everyone Has the Opportunity to Reach Their Potential



Biographies of Speakers & Performers

Asha Raghu is a 13 year old 7th grader at Labay Middle School. She is multilingual, multicultural, an Honor Roll student, a Girl Scout, an accomplished piano player and plays violin for the Labay Philharmonic Orchestra. She is also a Debater and Orator in Labay debate team, and an accomplished dancer (Indian classical dance) having made several public performances. She is very creative, practices out of the box thinking, and wants to be the next Steve Jobs! __________________________  _____________ ____________ ______________ ____________ _______________  _______  ___________ ______________ _____________ _______ __________ 
Aishwarya Ravat is 14 years old and was born in Mumbai India. She followed her parents to Houston, Texas as a 2 year old. She is currently a 9th grader at the Harmony School of Advancement. A straight-A student she excels notably is math and science alike. She was a semi-finalist at the 2010 I-SWEEEP 3E contest for her topic “What Cools Faster – Insulation for the Home”.
She is a Girl Scout who recently completed her Silver Award by working with kids at the Salvation Army, Boys and Girls club, teaching them “How to be a Leader- The Girl Scout Way”. An excellent artist and dancer, she also loves to play Volleyball. An only child of her parents, who are extremely proud of her, she is also well liked by her peers and teachers alike. As any teenager would be at her age today, she loves spending time, texting her friends and chatting with them online too.
She also loves spending time with her cousins and extended family during her breaks from school.
Blake Hubbard is a 17 year old senior at Harmony Science Academy, one of the few exemplary schools in the state of Texas that focuses on math, science and technology. She has always had an interest in mentorship thus she has involved herself in many leadership opportunities, such as being Vice President of her class. Though leadership has shaped the majority of her school career, her love for science and research in the interdisciplinary fields of science such as cognitive science and nanotechnology has influenced her involvements in a plethora of activities. Receiving awards in the school-wide and city wide science fair, Science Olympiad, I-SWEEP, Blake has shown her gift for the sciences. As she prepares to study neurobiology and psychology, she has participated in Summer Research Programs such as the Rice Nanotechnology Program and various other research programs with professors of neighboring Houston Universities for both knowledge and preparation. She is currently studying at the Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research Center to help culture, manufacture, and find ways of eliminating cancer cells. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering for Crisis Intervention of Houston weekly in the hope of not only gaining experience with handling crisis but also fulfilling her need to alleviate the crisis of her community.> >
Danielle Pink-Bailey was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Houston natives. When she reached the age of two her mother moved Danielle’s brother and her back to Texas. In Texas Danielle began spending extended amounts of time with her grandfather Walter J. Pink, a lawyer and civil activist. During this time, she developed a longing for helping those in unfortunate situations as well as a respect and love for all cultures. Upon spending so much time with her grandfather Danielle developed a strong mind and a sense of determination to always stand up for what she believes in. She attended Silver lake elementary school and Rogers middle school in Pearland where her interest in science began to grow. She was sent to Harmony Science Academy- Houston for her high school career and there she was able to effortlessly fuse her love for science with her admiration for different cultures in one setting. Now a senior at Harmony, Danielle looks forward to her future as a double major in Social Work and Hospitality Management while minoring in Italian language. After gaining her master’s degrees Danielle plans on leading a few missions to the rural parts of Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, India, Japan, Haiti, Thailand, Pakistan and Africa with the intent to provide goods, teachers and “The Gospel”. As extended as her ambitions may be, one task a little higher up on Danielle’s “to do” list includes her further exploration of the Turkish culture on her trip to Turkiye this coming spring. >
Denise Lanier is an educator and advocate, a poet and performer, a storyteller who believes in the power of narrative to transform and transport, create and connect. She was the shy, awkward girl who didn’t fit in, was often bullied, happiest with her nose in books, whose best friend was her dog. After being cast in a play in her teens Denise discovered a way to be comfortable in her own skin, bringing to life the words and story of a character. Costumed in make-believe, she dared to be more of herself than she ever allowed off-stage; she claimed her voice. Then she taught others—many of them misfits, as well—to raise their own voices, through acting, creative writing, even slam poetry.

When the diagnosis of MS intervened in her 30s Denise had to let go of acting, which is why her main mode of storytelling is now expressed through page rather than stage. She devotes much of her time to kids, teaching them to use words and imagination, to develop authentic, resilient, remarkable voices. She endeavors to grow in them the belief, the truth, that we are all artists and that we are the change-makers in our own stories. Denise’s best friend still has fur. Her mobility assistance dog is her constant companion and teaching assistant. Luke is also chief partner in crime; Denise is getting a reputation for stealing things. As inventor of a poetic form described as klepto-collaborative, she pickpockets words and phrases from others, reshuffling and reshaping the puzzle-pieces into a colorful, storied mosaic of voices. Taking something from every speaker at a conference in real-time, she crafts a collective poem that highlights the messages of the day, repurposing ideas, fashioning fresh stories. So while she may be a word thief, she figures being eco-conscious makes up for it. Denise is the founder of Word Play, a poetry-in-the-schools project, which she “co-taught” with her mobility assistance service dog Luke. Visit her blogs to find out more info: &> >

Erin Kotlan is currently a junior at The Woodlands High School. She has been a member of The Woodlands High School Choir for the past three years. She is an active member of a service club at her school called Interact. She is also a leader in her school’s Christian Student Union. At St. Timothy’s Anglican Church Erin is very involved in her youth group. She helps teach the children’s choir and mentors fifth and sixth grade girls.
In the past five years Erin has helped with many service projects. These include: a junior high mission trip to Galveston where she helped with a summer program for underprivileged children, a Never The Same missions trip to Guatemala, Soul In The City Houston where she helped out with generation, and most recently a Teen Missions International trip to Uganda where she spent time ministering to orphans, providing them with shoes, and building onto an aide base in Koboko.
From the moment she arrived in Uganda her life was changed. The tremendous need opened Erin’s eyes to a whole new spectrum of ideas and ways she wanted to change the world around her. Her main muse, Dorcas, was an orphaned girl who was so incredibly grateful for a pair of shoes and picture of an American family that she could call her friends. As her relationship with Dorcas continues to encourage her she is motivated to share the joy of this friendship with her peers.
Fabian Fernandez-Han is a 14 year old designer, investor, chess player, composer, painter and pianist. He has been homeschooled all his life. When Fabian was 11 years old, he won the Molecular Frontiers Inquiry Prize (aka the Kid Nobel). Also at 11, Fabian started investing his savings in the stock market focusing mainly on high tech companies. His interest in iPhone apps and financial investing drove him to design an app called Oink-a-Saurus to help youngsters learn to save, invest, spend and give wisely. At age 12, he entered Oink-a-Saurus in the New York Stock Exchange Financial Futures Challenge and won the grand prize. The NYSE so liked Oink-a-Saurus that they proceeded to fund the commercial development of Oink-a-Saurus, which is now available for download on Apple’s iTunes store.
Fabian has created number of award-winning designs including: “STOMPF Skates” which are made from Some Trash Oatmeal, Plastic bags, and dental Floss; “Soccer Art” which uses RFID tags and sensors to transform soccer matches into performance art; “Griffin Exercise & Diet Tracker” which is an iPad app; “Hawk Flyer” which is a zip-line glider propelled by compressed air, “SOCCAR” which uses crowd-sourced radio controlled soccer balls to blur the boundary between soccer players and fans.
Earlier this year, Fabian won the Jefferson Awards “GlobeChanger” award as well as the Ashoka-Youth Venture “Technology for a Better World” award. He recently co-organized the TEDxTheWoodlands 2011 conference. He is currently designing a bicycle-based water desalination device for developing countries.
Gibraan Rahman, currently a sophomore at The Woodlands High School, has always been a strong supporter of Islamic equality in America. As one of the few Muslims in his school, Gibraan has often had to deal with offensive remarks about Islam, often engaging in discussions with his peers about stereotypes of Islam. As an active member in The Woodlands High School debate team, this is usually easy for him. Gibraan is co-captain of policy debate with his partner, David. The two of them have been debating for a year, and are the two highest ranked sophomores on the debate team in terms of NFL (National Forensic League) points.
Gibraan is ranked at the top of his high school class, with the eventual goal of being valedictorian of The Woodlands High School in the class of 2014. He is currently studying to be a biomedical engineer with the hopes of attending Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. He has always wanted to help people in need of medical assistance, and he felt being a biomedical engineer would be the best way to use his talents to accomplish his goal. Fascinated with mathematics and biology, Gibraan has always taken an interest in the science of how things work. He also enjoys computer science, such as programming, and he hopes to apply programming to his creations as a biomedical engineer.

Jaylon Jenkins was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He is a senior at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School and plans to attend Baylor University to pursue a degree in business. His father died when he was very young therefore he grew up in a single parent home. Facing this type of adversity at a young age, his family worked to instill the importance of values such as honesty and respect into his life. As a result he aims to live his life with a standard of integrity each day.

Jaylon has a passion for music. He plays the piano and guitar, sings and composes music. He is currently a musician at the Wings Over Jordan Christian Church located in Humble, Texas. He is also active in his local community and school. Jaylon works with the local food bank at his church and twice he traveled to Belize, Central America on mission trips to serve the local communities. He has had the privilege of being the president of his school’s Christian club this year. He worked with the organization “Youth of Faith” to organize rallies that encourage young adults in urban communities. Above all Jaylon is a Christian and a believer in Jesus Christ who is the foundation of his life. His hope is that by reflecting Jesus’ love, faith, and integrity in his life he will impact others for the better.>


Finding Heroes founder, Kap McWhorter, has held teaching and administrative positions in both public and private schools for the better part of the last decade. Despite a demanding domestic and international speaking schedule, Kap is committed to investing in his local school district as Humble ISD’s Social Action Facilitator and Small Learning Communities Coordinator, and keeps his finger on the pulse of educators and students by continuing to lead three sections of Social Action for a select group of 85 junior and senior invitees from Atascocita High School.

Early on, Kap’s story was one replete with academic and professional successes, but scant on occasions of any perceived lasting impact. He was the personification of our educational ideals: class rank, scholarships, graduate degrees, awards and recognitions, yet found the promised payoff from such achievement elusive. It was not until he stumbled into a remote village in Mozambique, Africa that he found a larger target for his efforts and passion than personal advancement. His experiences with a band of beautiful orphans led to a series of sincere failures in global relief work, but eventually resulted in a viable well drilling campaign serving thousands in the villages of Mozambique and Malawi. In essence, he forfeited his feeble efforts at becoming a hero, doing something great/noble, and found purpose in serving those whose daily survival was nothing short of a heroic feat.
These experiences became the fertile ground for his work in education, combining his domestic connections with businesses and non-profits with his experiences abroad to develop what has become a Social Action paradigm for not only the students selected for his course, but for educators across the world. Kap reminds students and educators all over the country that our goal is not to create great students, but empower students to become great people. Kap’s story is inspiring, but he would be the first to tell you he is no hero. He is training a generation to look honestly at their communities and find the real heroes facing the daily attrition of social survival and use their knowledge to empower and catalyze change.>>
Khoren Ouzounian is a nationally recognized educator, composer, conductor, organist, pianist and entrepreneur. As founder of the Musicians Academy International of The Woodlands, his students have successfully enrolled in conservatory and college music programs throughout the United States and he is well recognized for his work as a teacher-trainer and master-class presenter. His philosophy and methodology in teaching has garnered international recognition and acclaim at such events as the World Piano Pedagogy Conference. His compositions and arrangements have been published and presented by Celebration USA™, Faiths United of the Woodlands, and in LDS church services throughout the U.S. Khoren is also an active soloist and chamber musician, most recently presenting a Beethoven and Grieg concert with violinist, Thomas McClung. Khoren also has a passion for business and finance. From 1995 to 2000, Khoren worked as the General Manager of Operations at Opal Concepts Inc. where his unique talents set him apart as a valued trainer and made him a part of the business development team. While at Opal Concepts, Khoren was twice invited to present seminars at the Fantastic Sams International Convention. Khoren is currently an independent financial advisor and wealth consultant with LPL Financial. While living in Las Vegas, Khoren also sat on the board of the Las Vegas Performing Arts Center. Khoren and his wife Samara live in The Woodlands area of northern Houston with their six children. His piano teachers have included JoLane Laycock Jolley, Dr. Douglas Humpherys, Robert Smith, Lillian Bauer Cox and Mykola Suk. >
LaTravion Golden is 16 years old and is constantly striving to reach success. LaTravion was born and raised in Houston. He currently is in the eleventh grade and attends Westfield High School. He participates in the Westfield High School Speech and Debate team, in Westfield’s Theater department, and in Carl Wunsche High School’s FFA chapter as a senior member. LaTravion enjoys giving at least one hundred percent in any and everything he does. LaTravion has many interests; his favorites include music, photography, classical painting, writing, Oratory and cooking (he hopes to be able to cook with “Iron Chef” Bobby Flay). Upon graduation from high school, LaTravion hopes to study at Harvard University and eventually developing into one the nation’s top attorneys. Additionally, he dreams of serving as the President of the United States. LaTravion feels it is his obligation to serve not only his country but the larger society across geopolitical boundaries. He believes that we must all overcome our differences and act in a unified fashion if we are to survive and progress as a civilization.

Mario A. Salinas, a fourth generation Houstonian, has witnessed the demographic transformation of his city during his lifetime while facing his own personal challenges. His life story, as well as an interest in societal trends and civic engagement, has given him a specific perspective on Houston’s past and present, as well has what is needed to ensure that Houston has a prosperous future in store for all who resided within the fourth largest city in the nation. Due to cerebral palsy, Mario’s parents were told he would never walk nor talk hours after his birth. Yet, through the dedication of his mother and physical therapists, Mario exceeded all expectations. Beginning public school in special education classes, Mario was able to transcend the labels and lowered prospects that were assigned to him, moving to standard classes, and ultimately, gifted and talented courses by the age of thirteen. After becoming the first in his family to graduate from college, Mario served in the inaugural class of the City Hall Fellows in the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. Today he is employed by the City of Houston’s Public Works Department, while also serving in leadership positions in two local institutions aimed at engaging Houston’s largest and fastest growing population bloc: Latino Giving Houston and Progresista Voter Union. He continues to deal with a sever stutter which he has had all of his life and welcomes opportunities to exercise the speech techniques that are effective for him while sharing his story and perspectives. >>

Matthew Thompson is in his first year at the University of Texas, majoring in hydrogeology. He graduated ninth out of a class of nine hundred from Atascocita High School in 2001 where he participated in the football and band programs for four years.

As a junior at Atascocita, Matthew joined a Social Action class. This class was designed to give students an education in social issues that affected both the local community and the world at large. It then provided opportunities to work with local aid organizations and finally the students were allowed to design and implement their own social projects in the community. Matthew’s project was designed to raise money throughout the school in order to send a water purification system to Haiti. Leading a group of four other students Matthew raised $1,500 in just a few weeks and was able to send the system to a refugee camp where it provided clean and safe water to over 5,000 people every day.
Through contacts made while working this project Matthew was invited to spend a month in Malawi, and Mozambique. Matthew left at the end of June following his junior year of high school and journeyed with two men, Tom Dake, and Mike Herbert halfway around the world. While in Africa, the three men repaired eight water wells and installed a water purification system on a flood prone island that was unsuitable for a well.After returning from his trip, Matthew has continued to speak out about the water crisis affecting billions of people worldwide, and the villages he assisted have reported good health, never before experienced in the community. The village children are now able to go to school year round and cholera outbreaks, which used to plague the entire community, have dropped off almost entirely.
Matthew Williams is student of philosophy at Lone Star College-Montgomery in Conroe, Texas. He is currently in his third year there, and hopes to transfer either to the University of Texas at Austin or New York University by the coming fall semester. Matthew chose to attend Lone Star because he wanted to find his niche in the world before heading off to a four year university. Matthew is a member of many organizations on campus at Lone Star College-Montgomery. Notable among them are Student Ambassadors, Psi Beta, the Honors Program, and Phi Theta Kappa (The National Honors Society for 2-year Colleges). He is also an officer in both Psi Beta (Treasurer) and Phi Theta Kappa (Vice President of Public Relations and Historian). However, if asked Matthew would say the position he is proudest to hold is Student Leader of The Academy at Lone Star-Montgomery, the campus philosophy club. Matthew has presented his own academic writings at the Fall 2010, Spring 2011, and Fall 2011 Honors Day Competitions. For which he received 2nd and 3rd place respectively at the Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 competitions. Matthew was also selected from nearly 1,000 applicants to present at the 2011 Great Plains Honors Conference. He enjoys presenting academically, and views each presentation as both a challenge and a chance to have fun sharing information with others. In his free time, Matthew enjoys reading, spending time with friends and playing basketball. Inquisitive about all aspects of the world around him, Matthew discovered his love of philosophy at Lone Star, and consequently what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Matthew hopes to attain his Masters of Philosophy and spend the rest of his life teaching at the collegiate level, with plans to retire posthumously.
Believing that women can be a powerful force to affect change through entire families and communities, Nicole Minor began to design world-wide aid programs in 2005 that have become the foundation of The Pangea Network. Today, she manages the world-wide operations of Pangea as Chief Executive Officer serving hundreds of women in economic development programs in both urban and rural areas of Kenya and in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank. “By empowering one woman,” Minor declares, “we see her begin to transform her family. By transforming her family, she uplifts the community. By uplifting the community, even in small ways, she takes steps toward a more peaceful and hopeful world.” Today, Pangea is a 501 C 3 non-profit corporation, running women’s economic development programs and providing scholarship opportunities for young girls and boys to earn a minimum of a high school education. Prior to her formation of Pangea, Minor performed market research for consulting and technology companies in Europe and the United States. Later, in Brazil, she assisted a large international development agency during their in-country start-up phase. Here, she found her passion–working with courageous, resilient and strong people from different cultures who cooperate to improve the lives of their families as well as those in their community. Ms. Minor earned a Master Degree in International Management from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management, in Glendale, Arizona in 1999 and a Bachelor’s Degree in French from UCLA in 1994. She resides in Houston, Texas, the headquarters of Pangea. (See
Quanzel Caston is a junior currently attending Carl Wunsche Senior High School in Spring ISD. Quanzel has a keen and developed interest in politics and government and serving his nation in the future as a policymaker. He plans to attend the United States Military Academy (West Point) and eventually serve as a Senator and President of the United States. Quanzel enjoys reading, writing, governmental strategy games, and thinking of ways to better himself, his community and his nation. Quanzel actively participates on his Speech and Debate team, where he has qualified for the Texas Forensics Association’s State Speech and Debate tournament (in the events of Student Congress and International Extemporaneous Speaking) and for the National Forensics League’s National Speech and Debate Tournament (in Student Congress). Most recently he placed 8th at the prestigious National Speech and Debate Tournament of the University of Texas in Student Congress. Quanzel also is a Cadet 1st Lieutenant in the Mustang Battalion of Westfield High School JROTC. Last summer, he captained and led his team to a 9th place finish in the world-wide JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl. Quanzel has also seen success in competitive writing, not only placing fourth at the UIL 2011 Regional competition on the Campus of Baylor University, but also having the privilege of being one of four State and National finalist out of over 17,000 essays in the Harris County Do The Write Thing Essay Contest in 2008, a contest dedicated to essays on preventing violence within the community.
Rohit Raghu, a 17 year old senior at Cy-Falls High School, is multilingual, multicultural, an Honor Roll Student, an Eagle Scout-Boy Scouts of America, plays piano and violin for Cy Falls Philharmonic Orchestra, holds a Taekwondo black belt, serves as Secretary-South Asian Students Association. He represented Cy-Falls in National Science Olympiad, earning several medals in state, region, district for Science Olympiad.
He also led a project to provide a variety of educational materials to a one-room school for children of tribal villagers in the Sanjay Gandhi National Forest in Bombay, India. This school is operated by the NGO My India Empowered.
Rohit also volunteers in inner city schools for science and math competition proctoring as part of Educational Rainbow Challenge, plans to major in chemical engineering and use it to help the less fortunate, passionate about making a difference in the world.
Taylor Cull, age 16, is currently a junior in high school and dual credit student at Lone Star College. She is planning to attend Texas Tech University in 2013 with a major in environmental sciences. This decision influenced by her dedication and active involvement since 2001 in the Girl Scouts, and presently Venturing Crew. In the summer of 2007, Taylor went on her first backpacking trek to the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and hiked over 95 miles in 12 days. The following summer, she participated in a “14’ers Challenge” climbing 10 peaks in Colorado over 14,000 feet in elevation in 7 days.
More recently in summer 2011, Taylor got the opportunity to attend a Philmont Scout Ranch expedition in Cimmarron, NM, climbing over 90 miles in 10 days. Throughout the school year, between all these extended treks, she actively travels to state parks around Texas and four times a year trains Girl Scouts in an orientation weekend. Taylor has taught close to 400 girls everything they need to know about the art of backpacking, and the importance of getting outdoors.In the academic aspect of her life, Taylor has been a homeschooled student since 2010. Before this she attended Montgomery High School. She was on the Varsity Swim team as a freshman, and also played French Horn for the Montgomery Marching Band. As a member of the Honor Society, Taylor received all A’s and excelled in advanced classes. After becoming homeschooled, Taylor joined The Woodlands Homeschoolers Robotics team who competes in BEST Robotics, a nation wide competition whose mission is to teach junior high and high school students Engineering, Science, and Technology.
Ever since her first solo performance at the age of six, Tori Talac has been passionate about music with a special focus on singing and songwriting. She has been an active participant in her school choral program throughout her educational career, completed several studio recordings, and in 2008, Tori had the privilege of performing behind John Legend and Juanes on the Latin Grammy Awards.In addition to these activities, Tori has performed at churches throughout the Greater Houston Area, with special guest appearances at The Centrum cultural enrichment center and Lakewood Church. Her most recent public performance was in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she opened a professional sporting event with an a capella performance of the national anthem.
In addition to singing, Tori is an accomplished guitar player and pianist, with the guitar being her instrument of choice when composing new material. Now 17 and a senior in high school, Tori intends to continue pursuing music after graduation by broadening her palate through the study of traditional arts in Varanasi, India.
Victor Cyrus Jr. is a senior at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School; he is seventeen years old and has been an inspiration and role model for hope from birth. His mother participated in Desert Storm and did not wish to have any children. However while on leave she conceived and was burdened with the decision to abort her child, or cope with the idea of having a deformed child, because at that time every child born out of her unit was born with a birth defect. Victor’s greatest accomplishment was life, and he has dedicated his life to giving to others. He has used his voice in numerous performances, in and out of school, including the poetry and oratory category in the NAACP, as well as a public Speaker in churches. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Vice President of the Black History Committee, and a National Youth Leadership Forum Spring 2012 Nominee as a Distinguished Alumni from Carl Wunsche Sr. High School. Victor’s life is not defined by a spot light, but by the backlight of the background. His ambitions are great but his heart is bigger. He is a college bound student who is currently waiting on his reply from Harvard University, and his intended career pathway is to become a future Senator and business entrepreneur. However no matter what his future profession his life’s ambition will always be to make an impact and not just an impression on the lives of others. >



Do you know someone who has a passionate vision of a better world and who has taken steps to realize it or has specific ideas for realizing it? If so, you might consider nominating that individual as a speaker for TEDxYouth@TheWoodlands. Just send us a note at or complete the form below:

Consistent with TED’s philosophy and our TEDx license, speakers and performers are not paid or reimbursed for expenses. Thank you for contributing to the success of TEDxTheWoodlands.

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