Adithi Yellamelli is currently a junior at Watchung Hills Regional High School. In her talk, "The First Step" she hopes to empower students to not be afraid to speak up and take part in putting forth change that can help fix the world around them. Stemming from the fear of judgement and embarrassment, students for too long have held themselves back in expressing their social and political ideas. Therefore, Adithi hopes that people will walk away understanding that something is better than nothing. Adithi has been a member of the Watchung Hills Regional High school Field Hockey Team since her freshman year and the chair for Homelessness outreach in the Interact club. She is very passionate in helping her community and the people around her. She enjoys trying new things and hopes to pursue her interest in the field of economics in the future.
Andrea Garcia is the president of the LatinX Alliance at Watchung Hills. Her love for advocating and representing her community is a part of what has influenced this talk. Immigration is an important topic that she wanted to speak on as immigration over the past several years has been problematic and not everyone gets to see the mistreatment that occurs. Andrea is also a part of the Diversity club, Tri-M Honors Society, Baskets4Better,; a fundraising organization, and volunteers as a CCD teacher at her childhood church. Andrea wants to pursue a career in business and has high ambitions to make her impact on the world. She knows her advocacy and involvement in her community will carry on into the future.
Annalise Houghton is a junior at Solebury School. She has always been passionate about environmental and social justice, from educating kindergartners on water pollution in 8th grade, to becoming Co-President of Solebury’s Environmental Action Committee, representing Eastern Pennsylvania at HOBY’s World Leadership Congress in 2022, and becoming one of Solebury’s junior class presidents.
Dawn Mitchell is a senior at Watchung Hills. She is the President of the Black Student union. Dawn used to be a shy girl who did not speak out when an injustice was happening, but she would always think about the situation and why she didn’t speak up. She eventually became comfortable with speaking up and using her voice for a positive impact. Dawn is in an organization called Jack and Jill where she served as the immediate past Eastern Region Teen Recording Secretary. Her talk explores the importance of activism and finding your voice. Alongside the use of social media and how it plays an instrumental role in activism. She wants to use her TEDx talk, “You Can Make a Difference Too” to educate her audience on the importance of youth activism and why you should use your voice for something you are passionate about. Dawn hopes to leave her audience with the power to be an activist and make change in the world so it is inclusive for all.
Hannah Golub is a senior at WHRHS. She has competed on the cross country and track team for four years and the swim team for two years. She is also a peer leader and a part of the Warrior Athletic Leadership Team. Next year she will head to Brandies University where she will be majoring in political science with a double minor in womens, gender, and sexuality studies as well as legal studies.
JJ Zhang is a senior and will be graduating with the class of 2023 here at Watchung Hills. As the stage manager of WHRHS's very own theatre company as well as an avid slam poet, his love for performing has followed him throughout all of his years as a student. He is also the president of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, and with his club, he represents himself and the rest of the queer student population through school-wide activism and diversity outreach. His Ted Talk, "Mint Chocolate Chip," delivers a witty yet personal deconstruction of reductionism and stereotyping, inspired by his own experiences discovering his identity, with hopes to connect with his audience on what it means to identify as human.
Ms. Laura Goodson began her career at Watchung Hills Regional High School in 1997. Before her teaching career, she owned a small restaurant in New York state. She spent her first ten years teaching Special Education and the next sixteen in the English department. During her tenure at Watchung Hills, she has participated in vicious rounds of Penny Wars, taken a chocolate cream pie to the face (as a fundraiser), participated in heart-rending duets with Mr. Gangluff (after winning the Torment Your Teacher dares), coached the freshman field hockey team for three years, and was a Grade Level Council advisor for twenty-two years. She is known for her savage dance moves, which are often showcased at the prom. Outside of school, she enjoys hiking, camping, running, traveling with her family and clubbing... book clubbing, that is.
Meher Malhotra is a senior at Watchung Hills. She is an energetic extrovert who loves to meet new people and learn new things, which is why she is thrilled to be part of an event like TEDX. Meher enjoys involving herself in the school community as president of the INTERACT club and a captain on the Ultimate Frisbee team. She has a passion for screenwriting, and hopes to pursue it alongside business in college.
Nikhil Ahuja is a high school senior and a mental health activist. He founded a non-profit organization called NYUPLIFT in 2020 to raise mental health awareness for doctors and teenagers. Passionate about fair-learning and equitable education, Nikhil works with youth boards around New Jersey to discuss opportunities for students to better public education and to voice issues that students want rectified in their schools. Nikhil's talk, "An Opportunity to Restore Creativity and Fairness in Public Education," discusses flaws in the system and in the thinking of students in present-day America and how we need to take action before it is too late. From college applications to unfair admissions and unmotivated students, Nikhil is going to discuss specific action that needs to be taken. As a recent college applicant, he also includes personal hindsight in his talk.
Sarah Russo is a junior at the Solebury School. Her interest in social justice and strong community has grown from a young age and has led to being a junior class president, sports captain, and avid member of multiple in-organizations. Her outside work, including work with A Woman's Place and diversity equity inclusion involvement, has also been influenced by these interests. Sarah’s interest in the fast fashion industry continues to grow, as she works on publishing a paper on the issue in the coming months.