x = independently organized TED event


This event occurred on
March 29, 2018
Placentia, California
United States

Regardless of personal politics, Valencia High School students are encouraged to be open-minded, critical thinkers – events like TEDx with the theme of “Empowerment” truly opens the door to such a wide variety of talks – talks that will be infused with the personal perceptions that our students bring to the concept.

“EMPOWER” is an open-ended term that deals with motivation – depending on the student, the range of answers is endless. Along with the individual depth of the word itself, teenagers themselves often feel DISEMPOWERED by the world, limited by their age, and this event seeks to eradicate that disempowerment via the public articulation of their personal thoughts. Dialogue is not the enemy of peaceful coexistence, silence is – this event hopes to inspire ongoing dialogue, insight into a variety of students, and EMPOWER audience members to think and possibly act themselves.

500 Bradford Avenue
Placentia, California, 92870
United States
Event type:
Youth (What is this?)
See more ­T­E­Dx­Valencia­High­School events


Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Adeline Woltkamp

Student Speaker
Adeline Woltkamp is a junior in the International Baccalaureate program at Valencia, as well as a proud member of the Valencia Tiger Regiment marching and jazz bands. Her hobbies include reading, writing, taekwondo, listening to music, and carrying seventeen grocery bags at once to avoid taking multiple trips. Currently, Adeline is focusing on studying (mostly for chemistry), playing music, developing her Girl Scout Gold Award project, and enjoying herself. She would like to thank Mrs. Filowitz for working to make this experience possible, Mrs. Pierotti for providing a new perspective and helping her develop her talk, and all of her teachers for their dedication to the success of their students. Last but definitely not least, she would like to thank her family for supporting her on her educational journey and throughout everything she does.

Aidan Miller

Student Speaker
Aidan Miller is sixteen years old and attends eleventh grade at Valencia High School. Though not currently enrolled in the IB program, he strives to embrace the message of well-roundedness his Pre-IB teachers taught. In his free time, Aidan enjoys doing amateur chemistry, collecting 1950’s records, analyzing current events, exploring desolate parts of the Mojave Desert, and playing computer games with his friends. Occasionally, he dabbles in philosophy and politics. In the future, Aidan hopes to get at least a master’s degree in organic or inorganic chemistry. From there, he plans to enter polymer research or study the element thorium. He is thankful for all of the teachers who have advocated for him, his supportive family and friends, and the endless number of counselors who helped get him to where he is now.

Alexander Behura

Student Speaker
Alexander Behura is a senior enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Program at Valencia High School. He most enjoyed Human Geography, Chinese, Music Theory, and HL Math at VHS. As a musician, Alexander has completed the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music Exam with Distinction at the highest student level, and is currently preparing for the 2018 spring exam for a diploma in music. At school, Alexander has been nominated for Orange County’s Artist of the year by his teachers, is the main pianist for the Jazz Band, and is the only person to receive a perfect 7 on the IB music exam since the course’s inception in 2003. He also enjoys composing, and his compositions consistently receive first place in the PTA Reflections tournament, and his piece this year has been chosen to represent over 300 schools in Orange County in a statewide tournament.

Angel Trejo

Student Speaker
Angel Trejo is a 17 year old student and part of the AVID Program. Being a former foster youth with a huge interest in politics, he’s become increasingly involved in political activism, generally focusing on issues pertaining to the foster youth of America. Aside from politics, Angel simply enjoys being in the company of his friends and family, as well as writing on occasion.

Avery Eun

Student Speaker
Avery Eun is currently a junior at Valencia High School, enrolled in both the International Baccalaureate and Valencia Technology programs. He is in the school’s orchestra, is a Link Crew leader, and is the vice president of a Model United Nations (MUN) club. A Korean-American who grew up on an American Army Base in Seoul, the diversity of the people surrounding him has had a tremendous influence on both his cultural knowledge and bilingual skills. He is proud of his heritage and never forgets to be appreciative of the special opportunities he had been given by being able to truly grow up half-Korean and half-American. As a varsity swimmer also involved in an independent competitive swim club, he spends a sizeable part of his day in the pool, completely exhausting his body to rest from the mental exhaustion of IB classes during the day.

Brandon Kwon

Student Speaker
Brandon Kwon is a sophomore enrolled in the International Baccalaureate and Val Tech programs at Valencia High School. Although Brandon used to be a timid student, but has developed into an active member of his community. Brandon has always enjoyed the fast-paced action of sports and translates this passion to tennis. He is a member of the Valencia Tennis Team and has won 1st place in a couple of independently organized tournaments. He is also a member of the PTSA organization which strives to enhance everyone's experience at our campus. Additionally, he participates in Valencia STEM, which provides young children at the YL Boys' and Girls' Club with an enjoyable, learning experience through varying experiments. Finally, Brandon has been participating in Lincoln-Douglas Debate competitions since 7th grade and has placed in several competitions. In the future, Brandon hopes to pursue a medical career so he can repay his community for all the memorable experiences it has provided him.

Caitlin Lee

Student Speaker
Caitlin Lee is a junior in Valencia High School’s International Baccalaureate Program. As a member and team captain of the Varsity Mock Trial team and a Lincoln Douglas debater who has competed on state and national circuits, she has a passion for public speaking and advocacy in the legal and philosophical arena. Through her competitive and leadership experiences, she has learned the values of flexibility, perseverance and resilience, which are much needed to overcome adversity. She has also developed an appreciation for the process of learning and growing, rather than the outcomes. On her free time, Caitlin enjoys thrill-seeking, whether it be zip-lining through the Hawaiian jungles or parasailing over the Pacific, watching Broadway musicals, and reading mystery novels.

Connie Chang-Chien

Student Speaker/Biologist
Connie Chang-Chien is a junior at Valencia High School. An avid lover of the arts and sciences, most of the time you’ll find this strange being either listening to K-Pop, R&B, or classical music, or doing something science-y related (mostly biology). She is an intern at an antibiotic resistant bacteria research lab at CalState Fullerton, and completes for the school’s Science Olympiad and Biology Olympiad teams, but somehow also tries to survive in the IB program as well. She is a first violinist in the school’s Sinfonia Orchestra, but also attempting to learn viola on the side. Outside of school she has coached winning Science Olympiad teams at Kraemer Middle School and has volunteered with AYSO VIP Soccer, a program allowing for kids and adults with disabilities to get the chance to play soccer. In the future, she hopes to be able to do exciting research concerning diseases and maybe discover some cures one day? Who knows!

Emily Morgan

Student Speaker
Emily Morgan is a junior at Valencia High school, currently involved with IB, lacrosse, and French club. Outside of school, she spends most of her time at her martial arts studio either teaching or training, at home playing guitar, or going out with friends. In the future, Emily would love to major in forensic science or chemistry in college and use this to work in a crime lab for the FBI. Her life’s dream, however, is to travel the world with the Peace Corps teaching math in developing nations. She would most like to thank her family, friends, teachers, and martial arts instructors for giving her the skills necessary to participate in TEDx.

Emily Nguyen

Student Speaker/Alpacasso Enthusiast
Emily Nguyen is a senior at Valencia High School. Though you wouldn't know it at first glance, she is in the International Baccalaureate Program. Despite being pretty busy with IB, Emily somehow finds time for choir, orchestra, and mock trial. As the Japanese Club President, she adores watching anime and reading manga. Emily likes to spend her time singing off-key and taking naps on the floor. When not gushing over alpacas, she plays video games, helps Ms. Filowitz as her unofficial TA for fun, and writes poetry.

Eric Berndt

Student Speaker
Eric Berndt is 14, a freshman at Valencia High School, & possesses a perspective on life that differs from the average teenager. With both his inquisitive nature and passion for technology, he is dual enrolled in the Pre-International Baccalaureate Program and Val Tech. Nicknamed by his parents at a very young age “The Little Old Man,” he began spending large portions of time pondering the deeper meaning of literally anything and everything. Eric hopes to show that by attempting to change someone’s perspective, that person may see life in a whole new way while others around him may truly see him. Eric enjoys listening to music, tweaking the computer he built, riding bikes and playing video games with friends, and, of course, asking lots of questions.

Erin Kim

Student Speaker/Literary Enthusiast
Erin Kim is a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Valencia High School. She is constantly mistaken for her fraternal twin sister, though they personally think the differences between them are obvious. In her free time, you will find her with her nose in a book, watching movies with her family, or playing the harp. Erin has competed on the Academic Decathlon and Science Olympiad teams for three years. She volunteers at her church every week. In the future, she wants to become a scientist and conduct groundbreaking research.

Ethan Thio

Student/Public Speaker
Ethan Thio is senior at Valencia. He has a younger sister in the seventh grade and has lived in Yorba Linda for most of his life. Ethan is a highly decorated speech-and-debater who also leads the Speech and Debate club at VHS. Outside of speech, Ethan is in the IB program at Valencia, which basically means he studies a lot. If he's not studying or practicing speech, you can probably find him reading comics or anything he can get his hands on, playing fantasy football, or volunteering at a local hospital. He also aims to attend college in the fall.

Jenika Kolacz

Student Speaker
Jenika Kolacz is a sophomore at VHS and enrolled in the Valencia Technology program. Jenika enjoys being involved in High School through volleyball and ASB. One of her talents is special effects makeup which she showcased during the Every 15 Minutes event in spring of 2017 and in the 2017 fall play of 1984. Outside of the walls of VHS, Jenika is a 12-year Girl Scout who earned the Gold Award as a Freshman and she plays on a 16-National Club Volleyball Team.

Khira Mistry

Student Speaker
Khira Mistry is an Indian-American junior at Valencia High School, enrolled in the IB program and numerous activities both on and off campus. She discovered her love for public speaking after joining Mock Trial and has utilized those skills through her leadership roles on the lacrosse team, STEMup4Youth Club, and in Girl Scouts. Khira self-taught herself bollywood dance and performed at numerous events growing up. Her love of the art led her to be president of the TAAL Indian Dance Club, where she shares her passion of dance with her peers. Khira dreams of becoming a lawyer so she can help represent people who do not have the power to speak up. She is a strong believer in the power of the girl and continues to voice these sentiments through her work in Girl Scouts.

Lyba Batla

Student Speaker
Lyba Batla is 16 years old and is currently a junior at Valencia High School. She is a part of the International Baccalaureate program and loves her classes as well as the people around her. Lyba is currently taking her second year of computer science and hopes to pursue a career in a similar field. She does not let the fact that there are not many girls in the class discourage her from doing what she loves. Lyba is also one of the team captains of her school’s Mock Trial team. Her passions include public speaking, reading, and dancing.

Maher Abukhader

Student Speaker
Maher Abukhader is a senior at Valencia High School. Outside of school, he likes video games (but only sports or games with a story), sports, exercising, movies, hanging out with friends/family, and he likes being a helping hand. TEDx is such a honor because it’s always filled with great people with great stories and he would have never guessed that he would be put on this list. Also, he wants to speak because his talk is about how hard it was for him to speak. Maher was diagnosed with autism, so he would like to advocate for kids or people that also have autism. And a big thank you to his mentor, Mr. Lay.

Phil De Vera

Student Speaker/Drum Major
Phil De Vera is sixteen years old and is a junior at Valencia High School in the IB Program. He is in the Tiger Regiment Marching Band at his high school, and he is the drum major. Outside of school, Phil is a 3rd degree black belt in taekwondo. He tends to find himself searching for all the possible leadership opportunities, as he feels like he was born to be a leader. In the future, he wants to study science and either major in Biochemistry/Chemistry or go into the nursing profession. On the occasional times when he has free time during his busy lifestyle, Phil enjoys trying new things and exploring different hobbies.

Saleem Haider

Saleem Haider is a sixteen year old student here at Valencia High School currently enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Program. Delving into problems and concepts headfirst and learning hands on is what Saleem enjoys on campus and at home. Being a member of the Valencia High School Tiger Regiment Drumline, Saleem’s passion is playing music. Having spoken at a TedX event previously on his aspirations and goals as a musician, Saleem returns once again to the stage to talk about philosophical concepts and tackle theories of the vast universe we live in. During the summer Saleem works as a board member for the R.A.C.E club here at Valencia High School raising money for cancer awareness and research. His extroverted personality is what drives his passion to leave a positive impact on others and aspire to spread that excitement to make complicated problems and goals so interesting for others everyone wants to work and deal with them.

Sonnet Nguyen

Student Speaker/Artist
Sonnet Nguyen is a senior at Valencia High School. She is an IB Diploma Candidate and aspires to pursue in a career in film or advertisement. She is a published artist, and is currently working on a graphic novel on top of juggling her tedious workload. Her hobbies besides art include playing in her school orchestra, reading novels, and watching various TV shows and Youtube videos. She dreams of traveling the world and eating new food. She hopes to work on films after college as a storyboard artist or package designer. @sonnetdoesart

Tara Filowitz

TEDxValenciaHighSchool Coordinator/Language Arts Teacher
Tara Filowitz (Arrey) is a graduate of both Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) and Chapman University (Orange, CA). At Brandeis, Ms. Filowitz received a BA in Theatre Arts, with an emphasis in Dramatic Structure and Text, in 2001. At Chapman University she received both a Teaching Credential (Single Subject CLAD Credential with a focus in Secondary English - 2007) and a Masters degree in Education (emphasis in Curriculum and Foundations - 2009). Ms. Filowitz has taught at Valencia High School since 2007 - - ranging from Pre-IB to ELD and everyone in between. Special assignments include: Senior Awards Coordinator; OCAD Coach; and TEDx Coordinator. Ms. Filowitz has been the beneficiary of the VHS PTSA Teacher Grant; Winner of the Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction award from the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) 2017; and trained to be an IB Drama Teacher with ISTA in 2013. Other credentials include OCSA (student & teacher), musical theatre actress/singer for 20+ years.

Organizing team


Placentia, CA, United States