By Ashley Conde ’17 and McKenna Hendrickson ’17
Recently we had the unique opportunity of attending an event hosted by TEDxPasadenaWomen on topics relevant to women and current events. It was one of multiple TEDxWomen events that took place around the world at the end of October. The theme assigned to all participants was It’s About Time.
We spoke with two members of the speaker selection committee, who told us that there were over 200 applicants to speak. Eventually, 16 were chosen. The most important criteria for the speakers was their adherence to the theme. Even though it was a female centric event, two men were also chosen to speak because their speeches were seen as relevant to the female experience, as well as the human experience that the theme wanted to explore.
Speakers touched on a diverse range of topics and came from all over the U.S. and internationally. “I was impressed by the selection of the speakers,” said Conde. “One of my favorite speakers was Nathalia Holt, a young scientist and the author of Rocket Girls. Her research on the first female scientists at NASA was both intriguing and inspiring.
Added Conde, “The TEDx event was an incredible opportunity for me to attend as a journalist. I enjoyed interviewing the speakers and visiting the green room. From the TEDx speakers, I learned to practice mindfulness and to take a few minutes a day for silent reflection. I became more aware of the group of strong, supportive women in my community.”
Hendrickson agreed. “I felt very welcomed by all the speakers and attendants, and they were all so gracious in letting us ask them questions after their speeches,” said Henrickson. “I got to learn more about topics ranging from white privilege to sustainable water practices, and I loved watching many different intelligent people talking about their passions,” she said.
We were especially impressed by the event’s special connection to an institution very nearby: Immaculate Heart High School. The Executive Director of TEDxPasadenaWomen is Heather Heimerl Brunold, IH Class of 1989. Making our attendance possible was Michelle Mayans, IH Class of ’89. Mayans is the founder of KidScoopMedia, an organization that provides young people with opportunities to practice their journalism skills in a variety of high-profile environments.
Also, among the day’s speakers was someone we know very well: Sharmin Sharnur, a former Bamboo editor who graduated from Immaculate Heart last June. She is now a freshman at the University of California, Irvine. Shanur delivered a TEDx talk entitled “I am a Muslim Feminist” based on an essay she wrote for WriteGirl, a creative writing mentorship program. She was selected for the TEDx event as a scholarship recipient after submitting her speech and auditioning as a speaker.
Said Hendrickson, “I was super impressed to see what all these IH alumna achieved in their lives and careers. It also heartened me to see a network of determined and imaginative women, who have lived out the lessons we (current students) are taught every day.”
Brunold later shared how IH proved transformative in helping her find her own voice. Her high school experience, she noted, spurred her ongoing desire and commitment “to create equity and access to those with muted voices.”
“I would love the little Pandas at school to know that there are all of us (alums) out here supporting you, and cheering for you, and hoping to create space for you on stages like this where you can use your voice as a catalyst for change,” said Brunold.
TEDxPasadenaWomen executive director Heather Heimerl Brunold, IH Class of 1989, with (l-r) senior Ashley Conde, TEDx speaker and IH alumna Sharmin Shanur, Class of 2016, and senior McKenna Hendrickson.