An honors student on the Student Council at Hill Country Middle School in Austin, Joseph Asfouri enjoys expressing himself in many venues. These include soccer on the field and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the mat, but it is on the piano keyboard where he has most excelled. Playing since the age of five, this award-winning musical artist has performed widely, and was chosen for a special honors recital program at his last piano festival appearance.
An author, frequent university lecturer, and strategic brand planner in New York City and Austin, Chris Kocek is the founder/CEO of Gallant, a strategy and design firm in Austin. Having developed nationally recognized campaigns for Fortune 500 brands, including AARP, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Hyatt Hotels, Ace Hardware, and John Deere, Chris seeks to bring his creative communication skills to helping purpose-based brands build a better world.
From her childhood wonder about the natural world to her research in cancer drug resistance, Shree Bose has always been fascinated by science. As the Grand Prize winner of the inaugural Google Global Science Fair, she has showcased her work to President Obama, was one of Glamour Magazine’s Amazing Young Women of 2011, and as a current student at Harvard, intends to pursue a career in science and medicine.
Ashley is 17 years old and a current senior at Westlake High School. Her love of chemistry began at the age of eight when she built a secret laboratory in her garage. Since then, she has done her best to get everyone around her excited about science, primarily through founding and running the highly successful Elemental Chemistry Club at her school. Next year, Ashley plans to major in chemical engineering.
Premiere and Final Cut A Cappella Group
Premiere and Final Cut is an A Cappella group from MacArthur High School in San Antonio. Under the guidance of Matt Woodward and Caitlyn Griffith, this group of talented students performs a wide variety of music, from barbershop to pop. Originally, Premiere was founded for girls, and Final Cut for boys. Joining together, Premiere and Final Cut became the International Champions of High School A Cappella in 2011.
Garrett is a man of many layers: Olympic gold-medalist, passionate foodie, cowboy enthusiast, traveler, family man, teacher, and member of Team USA since 2005. Diagnosed with high blood pressure, Garrett now pursues culinary paths to improve health through nutrition. Landing in prestigious kitchens with incredible chefs, the gold medalists of food, he’s a man on a mission, believing everything he’s learned about food and fitness dramatically changes how our bodies work and feel.
In Paris, far from his East Dallas barrio roots, Joaquin bested poets from 15 countries – making him the top slam poet on either side of the Atlantic. Speaking about a youth of violence and a heritage of sacrifice, he credits poetry and slam with saving his life. He has opened for Maya Angelou and performs all over the world. But most importantly, it is through his teaching that he challenges students to stand up and fight with spoken word… proving that words are indeed mightier than the sword.
Future City Team
Students are often encouraged to plan ahead with an eye to the future. Always looking for a challenge, the West Ridge Middle School 6th grade team of Dillon Samra, Everest Maher, and Evan Trumeter did just that – and designed unique plans for a community 150 years into the future to solve our current environmental problem of water runoff. Their innovative Hydroflap System may just be the answer…
Michael is an idea magnet. His innovations range from those created as Principal Designer for Frog Design, like the Wire, to his own ideas – the Reaction Housing System (a reusable approach to emergency housing). With Michael, a good idea often triggers a complete design vision and often a prototype in his garage. His attention is drawn to effective and inexpensive ideas that build community. He is a talented designer for wayfinding and an energetic combination of DIY & never say die.
Students are coming together from different Austin high schools to collaborate on a dance. The dancers are breaking limits, bringing together their various styles, from the graceful, fluid movements of an aerialist to the expressive, dramatic movements of a musical theater performer. Conor Donnelly is choreographing the piece. He’s performed at ZACH theater, and is a proud member of The Performing Arts Poject Company One and Company Two.
Brandi Clark Burton
Austinite Brandi Clark Burton’s path has taken her from Westlake High to Yale and back, to become what the Austin Business Journal has called the city’s “green ambassador.” Founder & Chief Inspiration Officer of Austin EcoNetwork, EcoNetworking, and Food Shift Austin, Brandi is a serial social entrepreneur, who has launched more than a dozen ventures. Repeatedly voted “Best Environmentalist” in the Austin Chronicle, Brandi is a community connector, civic leader, trusted green adviser, and inspiring voice for change.
As Professor of Computer Science at UT Austin,
Dr. Peter Stone’s interests run from competing in the international RoboCup soccer tournament to developing novel computing protocols for self-driven vehicles. His long-term research involves creating complete, robust, autonomous agents that can learn to interact with other intelligent agents in a wide range of complex and dynamic environments.
Ruby Jane is a 17 year old singer, songwriter, guitar, and fiddle playing prodigy. She was the youngest fiddler ever invited on the Grand Ole Opry, and has performed with many big name artists, including Willie Nelson. Born in Texas, raised in Mississippi, and now in Austin, Ruby Jane has fronted her own band and toured for years. She’s recently performed at Lollapalooza, ACL, and SXSW. Her debut, self-released studio album, “Celebrity (Empire of Emptiness),” was released in June 2012.
Like many may imagine doing someday, Jia left his corporate job to build his own startup (just four days before his first child was born). When he hit a financing roadblock, he hit it hard. The best way to recover? 100 Days of Rejection Therapy. It’s been an astonishing journey, and positive proof that we have no idea what is waiting on the other side of an audacious request.
Lizzie is living with a syndrome so rare that it remains undiagnosed. There are just three people in the world, including her, who are known to have it. Currently 23 years old, she weighs only around 60 pounds. She has been featured on The Today Show, Dr. Drew, Entertainment Tonight, and the Bobby Bones Show, and is the author of two books. While living with her condition has caused tremendous challenges, Lizzie calls it the “greatest blessing of her life.” She has embarked on an inspiring journey to redefine beauty.