Aakansha Mehrotra is an IB student at Deerfield Beach High School. In her free time, she enjoys playing and instructing classical piano music, teaching standardized test preparation, traveling, going to the beach, and spending time with her loved ones. She enjoys spreading ideas that are revolutionary and that shed light on ideas that are often overlooked.
Alan Halaly is a graduating senior at Deerfield Beach High School who is not only organizing this inaugural event but speaking at it as well. At school, he is the President of the Thespians/Drama Club and the Multicultural Club. Outside of school, he is the Chief Financial Officer of The Safe Sex Project, a youth-led organization dedicated to educating teens about inclusive safer sex practices. He also is an alum of the Florida Atlantic University Barb Schmidt Fellowship for Social Change and is a Teen Ambassador for the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
Alexis Marion is a 17-year-old junior at Deerfield Beach High School. She loves helping others in any way possible and intends to make a mark everywhere she goes. As an outspoken individual, Alexis frequently makes her opinions known as well as listening to and empathizing with others. Despite her busy schedule as a student-athlete with two jobs, she always makes time for the things she is passionate about. Her biggest goal is to be a politician and give back to the community that raised her.
James Stephenson has been a classroom teacher in both California and Florida. He has taught a spectrum of students from Opportunity Classes to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate English. His educational philosophy draws heavily on his experience as a track and basketball coach. In addition to teaching, he also manages a few small business that execute Pond maintenance, service, repair and construction. As a teacher and business owner, he believes students are best served when real world financial literacy is infused into a rigorous curriculum.
Oshmita Golam is an IB student attending Deerfield Beach High School, where she actively partakes in the community around her. She is Vice President of Mu Alpha Theta where she works alongside the president of Florida MAO to mentor math competitors. She is Vice President of Multicultural Club where she engages with the students around her to give back to their community while learning about the different cultures. Also, she is the Event Coordinator of the Asian Food Fair where she mentors young girls with her passion for dance. Another passion of hers takes form in being the Founder of The DeCode Me Foundation which aims to further women to pursue STEM.
Sophia Thobani is a senior at Deerfield Beach High School who is a founding member and co-organizer of TEDxYouth@DBHS. At school, she is Co-President of the National Honor Society, Secretary of the Multicultural Club, and serves on the Broward County Honors Society executive board. Outside of school, she is the facilitator of youth volunteers for her mosque. Her passion lies in bringing underserved narratives to the forefront.
World Language and Theory of Knowledge Teacher
William Collazo is a teacher who thinks students should ask themselves, “What do I value?” He believes that knowing what we value helps us address some of the most meaningful questions and important decisions in our lives. Collazo teaches Japanese language and culture and the Theory of Knowledge in the International Baccalaureate Program at Deerfield High School in South Florida. He has trained for over 40 years in martial arts, earning master level ranks in karate and Japanese fencing. This training sparked a profound interest in Asia and the Japanese language, culture, and values. Pursuing his interest led him to earn degrees from Cornell University (B.A.) and Washington University (M.A.) focused on East Asian Studies. Collazo also taught in Japan, where he found his original calling for teaching. Since then, he has dedicated his life to encouraging students to lead mindful, self-examined lives of virtue. Collazo is Deerfield Beach High School's 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year.