x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Overachieve

This event occurred on
April 25, 2014
10:15am - 4:00pm EDT
(UTC -4hrs)
Alexandria, VA
United States

TEDxTJHSST is our chance for one day to hear the creative, unique, and inspiring ideas from TJ students, teachers, parents, and alumni. This event is organized by TJ students for the TJ community. By weaving together the ideas of our entire community and those of other inspiring TED speakers, we hope to challenge our student body to think different, pursue their passions, and never underestimate the power of ideas.

TJHSST Lecture Hall
6560 Braddock Road
Alexandria, VA, 22312
United States
Event type:
Youth (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Dr. Bruce Alberts

Talk Title: The Importance of Science for hte World: Dr. Alberts is the former Editor-In-Chief of Science, former United States Science Envoy, and former President of the National Academy of Science. He is now a professor at UCSF. At the NAS he was a leader in the creating the National Science Education standards. After speaking at TEDxTJHSST he will be doing a Q&A with students during 8th period.

Kristina Buenafe

Talk Title: Let It Go: A TJ Alumna's Journey in Overcoming (Fear Of) Mediocrity: In Arlington, Virginia born and raised ... but in Boston, she now spends most of her days / Teaching math, running, relaxing all cool / And doing some blogging outside of school Kristina teaches at Josiah Quincy Upper School (the first International Baccalaureate School in Boston Public Schools). She is an IB coordinator, grade team leader, and IB Math Studies teacher. She loves to tinker with recipes just as much as lesson plans, finding math in the real world, and incorporating new educational technology, debate, and project-based learning into her classroom. She loves learning from and contributing to the vibrant community of education bloggers. Her favorite holiday is March 14.

Tom Mendel

Talk Title: Beating Blindness with Belly Fat: Tom Mendel is an MD/PhD student at the University of Virginia. After graduating from Duke with a degree in economics, Tom came to UVA, where he has just defended his PhD that focused on the use of adipose-derived stem cells for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. After one remaining year of medical school, Tom plans to pursue a career in academic ophthalmology, treating patients and leading a laboratory towards new scientific understanding and clinical therapies. A graduate of TJ in 2002, Tom is very grateful for the opportunity to return and share some thoughts with TJ’s bright collection of minds about pushing the envelop of what we know and how we help others.

Lang Ly

Talk Title: Escapes, Climbs, and Breaks: Attitudes for Success: Lang Ly graduated from Thomas Jefferson in 1992, obtained an Electrical Engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, started her career at MicroStrategy in Tysons Corner rising through the ranks for 17 years, obtained a Master degree in Information Systems from George Washington University, and currently serves as Vice President of Business Applications at Appian, a software company in Reston. She strives to define herself by more than her degrees and career so she is also an enthusiastic rock climber, snowboarder, kayaker, cook, and photographer who has visited all seven continents.

Kate Lewis

Talk Title: Not Everything is Worth Doing Well: Here at TJ, I teach HUM II and AP Language and Composition. In my spare time I'm working on my MFA in Creative Writing at GMU, and I run with my husband. I just ran my first half marathon last month -- and in keeping with my TEDTalk topic - I didn't do it well, but I did it!

Aditya Chaudhry

Talk Title: Confidence: The Key to Success: Aditya Chaudhry is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. His goals in life are to write like Alexandre Dumas, think like Tony Stark, act like Ralph Waldo Emerson, and inspire people like Marshall Mathers. Aside from his academic pursuits of math and computer science, he enjoys reading, watching movies, and playing the saxophone. Aditya will be attending UVA this fall. He is grateful to TJ for giving him an optimistic outlook on life.

Alec Jessar

Talk Title: Taking a Step Back: Surpassing Mediocrity Through Perspective: Alec Jessar is a junior at TJHSST. His passion is the French language and culture above all, but he also finds pleasure and relaxation in studying astronomy, specifically cosmology, and running on the track team. Alec will be talking about his thoughts on perspective, dedication, success, and mediocrity.

Alyson Yee

Talk Title: What French cheese can teach us about American culture: Alyson Yee is a TJHSST alumna and a graduate of Tufts University, where she majored in biology and French and ate a lot of cheese. Most recently, she received a Fulbright research grant to pursue all of these passions by working on cheese microbiology at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Rennes, France. Upon her return to the US, she will speak at the TEDxTJHSST conference and then move to Hyde Park to begin her MD/PhD at the University of Chicago.

Michael Stueben

Talk Title: How to be a moral person: Mr. Stueben has been a math/comp.sci. teacher at TJ for more than twenty years. At one time he was a puzzle writer for Discover magazine. He taught a morals and ethics course at TJ three years ago, and has long been interested in philosophy, religion, and morality. When asked ""What is the meaning of life?"", he responds ""What meaning do you bring to life?"

Mike Miller

Talk Title: Academic Angels, Academic Devils: How Passionate Should We Be about Overachievement in Education?: Mike Miller has taught high-school English for 20 years. He holds a Masters Degree in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from Rutgers University, and he is a Teacher Consultant with the Northern Virginia Writing Project. He is also the father of two emerging readers and writers who will be entering kindergarten in the fall.

Priyanka Raju

Talk Title: Putting the Wrong Thumb On Top: Priyanka Raju is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. During the years she spent at TJ, Priyanka discovered her comfort zone: normalness. When she is not at school, she is an avid singer, painter, and dancer. Currently, Priyanka is working towards her classical Indian dance graduation performance. In her talk, Priyanka discusses the importance of finding your comfort zone and knowing when and how to cross the boundaries. She describes how discomfort can often lead to unforeseen successes.

Nicole Tucker-Smith

Talk Title: Scaling Education Innovation: Nicole Tucker-Smith (@MsTuckerSmith) is co-founder and CEO of Lessoncast, which provides next generation learning tools connecting teacher preparation, classroom practice, and professional development. She consults with schools, districts, and college/university teacher preparation programs to design professional learning resources that focus on changing instructional practice and measuring what works to improve student learning. She has also served as an elementary and middle school teacher, assistant principal, supervisor of parent support services, professional developer, and district-level administrator. In founding Lessoncast, she believes the future of student learning depends on our ability to merge innovative best practices with classroom realities.

Ally Scholle

Talk Title: Vivat lingua Latina: How a dead language can bring communities alive: Ally Scholle is a froshmore at Thomas Jefferson. When she's not studying Latin, she is a theater techie and occasional actor. She likes pasta, playing improv games, and watching videos of puppies.

Shadin Ahmed and Pegah Moradi

Talk Title: Rhyme and Reason: How to Find the Poetry in the World Around Us: Shadin and Pegah are self-proclaimed mango enthusiasts who became friends after sharing a mutual dislike for multiple-choice chemistry tests. The two are spoken-word-poetry fiends, and often find themselves discussing political and social activism with each other. Shadin hopes to pursue a career medicine, while Pegah simply aspires to continue her mango enthusiasm regardless of her future occupation.

Sarah Quettawala and Tarun Prabhala

Talk Title: I-Nite 2014: The Road to Staging the Unthinkable: Sarah Quettawala and Tarun Prabhala are both seniors and officers of TJ's largest culture club, Namaste. With the help of the other Namaste officers, club sponsors, and other international clubs, they were both essential in planning and organizing I-Nite 2014, which was hosted at George Mason University's Center for the Arts. With over 500 student performers and 2,000 audience members, the show was bigger and more successful than ever imagined. After months of planning, dedication, and perseverance, Sarah and Tarun will explain the Road to Staging the Unthinkable and how I-Nite 2014 came to be.

Nihaar Sinha

Talk Title: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I was In Your Shoes: Nihaar Sinha is a 2010 graduate of TJHSST. While at TJ he founded the Consulting Club and was President of Namaste for two years. He went to college at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was Executive Producer of a student web sitcom called "Office Hours". Nihaar is passionate about visual storytelling and is pursuing a film/television career in Los Angeles. He also plays the drums and guitar and is an amateur boxer.

Carolyn Ours

Talk Title: Happily Ever After: Why Disney Princesses Are More Successful than Me: Carolyn Ours is a senior at TJHSST who specializes in nothing in particular. Outside of school, she enjoys playing both soccer and basketball in a highly-average fashion, writing mediocrely, and baking passably. Next year, she hopes to continue a standard of highly-unremarkable performance at the University of Virginia. Her thoughts and reflections on life stem from her incredibly typical childhood. She aspires to one day be just like everybody else.

Jackie & Judy Bello

Talk Title: “I Used to Live My Life at Breakneck Speed . . . Until I Broke My Neck”: Jackie Bello '04 roped her mom, Judy Bello, into the TJHSST universe so successfully that Judy left her past life in international trade law and the pharmaceutical industry to become a teacher! Both mother and daughter are avid pursuers of happiness, work/life balance, and a positive impact on the world.

Stephen Levin

Talk Title: Don't quit your day job...yet: Stephen is the Director of Analytics at Speek, a company dedicated to making conference calls more productive. Before graduating from TJ in 2007, he had his first taste of the business world by running a small tutoring organization. Stephen graduated with a BA in Math and an MS in Commerce from UVA in 2011. He spent a couple of years in a full time position with MITRE, while juggling various side projects in his spare time, such as data analytics consulting. One of those side projects lead to his current full time position at Speek. He loves the versatility of working at a startup and uses data to make decisions in product design, sales, marketing, and operations. Stephen enjoys snowboarding, wrestling his dog, and shouting at his Xbox One when it doesn’t recognize his voice commands.

Organizing team


Washington, DC, United States
  • Ryan Morris
  • Katie Cox
  • Simran Rohatgi
  • Mason Chee