Local Figures Take TEDx Stage

On Nov. 2, Mt. Hebron hosted its first ever TEDx event, “Mt Hebron High Women,” organized by a group of students. Students were given the opportunity to sign up to listen to the TEDx talks. It was open to all students, but only the first 100 were chosen to participate. The group of speakers who were invited to the event were all high achievers in their respective fields, each discussing a variety of prevalent topics and issues in today’s society.

Sarah Dietrich

“Who do you want to be when you grow up?”

Dietrich spoke on the concept of knowing what career you want to pursue, reassuring others that it is okay not to have a set plan and giving examples of all the different careers and colleges she attended. After her sophomore year in high school, Dietrich decided she wanted to study abroad in Wales, taking the first major leap in her life. She then attended multiple colleges, all while establishing careers in dog training, dolphin training, marine research and coding. She now works for NASA as a computer coding programmer.

Kerri Phillips

“Don’t let the brushback pitch take you out of the game”

As a competitive softball player in her youth, Kerri Phillips learned that brushback pitches, which make the batter have to step back, would always happen both on and off the field. She discussed this concept through the eyes of a woman breaking into the STEM field.

Zainab Chaudry

“Crafting social currency for social good”

Zainab Chaudry began her presentation with her favorite Albert Einstein quote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” She challenged young women to find their talent or their passion and utilize it to create social change. She explained that while women only makeup one-fifth of Congress, she believes “a woman’s place is in the house, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House,” she said. She discussed the concept of social currency, explaining how every person with privilege has the ability to employ their skills for the benefit of female empowerment. She concluded with the following sentiment: “Your job isn’t to change the world, but to never stop trying.”

Davene Hinton

“The canvas and the paintbrush”

At a very young age, Davene Hinton had to deal with a major health problem that would carry with her for the rest of her life. When she was three years old, a moth flew into her ear and caused her to lose her hearing and speech, which she would have to rebuild as she got older. Around the same time, she and her 10 other siblings lost their mom. She was also bullied in school, was repeatedly told by her teachers that she would never be able to function in society, and was abused by her first boyfriend. As she got older, she began to see herself as a canvas being colored with a paintbrush of her goals and dreams. She went on to help at the Howard County domestic violence hotline and became an entrepreneur, despite what her teachers told her when she was younger.

Mohammed Tall

Watch Tall read his poem: “Tales of Griot”

Mohammed Tall, a poet and activist, started his talk with a poem to educate students. He utilized spoken word as the format for his talk, discussing social and political issues that affect those in the DMV and beyond. He previously won the 2017 Youth Poet Laureate for the City of Baltimore and is a major advocate for bringing about social change through art.

Naomi Redd

“Learning to love your perfectly imperfect self”

Dr. Naomi Redd began her presentation with stories of her childhood, reminiscing on having her wildly curly hair painfully straightened with a hot comb. She thought that she felt prettier with straight hair, but as she grew older, she realized that her naturally curly hair was beautiful and a large part of what gave her confidence. She recalled how her friends and coworkers were surprised when she came into work with a shaved head, but that the most important thing was that she felt comfortable. Dr Redd defines herself not through her looks, but through her successful career, her character, her favorite hobbies, like yoga.

Sheri Booker

“Why you should be dying to tell your own story”

In her TEDx talk, Sheri Booker began by speaking of her unconventional career: writing obituaries for a funeral home. After telling the lives of so many strangers who were not able to talk about their lives themselves, Booker became enthralled with the idea of taking ownership of her own narrative. She explained the importance of letting all voices, especially women’s, be heard, because there are always multiple versions of the truth. As a successful author, she believes there is no message as important as telling your own story.

Bernadette Bechta

“Breaking the code”

At a very young age, Technology Education teacher Ms. Bernadette Bechta stood up for what she believed in by going to feminist rallies. As she got older, she was a part of some of the first classes to graduate from business school, at a time when many prestigious schools “didn’t want to lower their standards” to admit women, she said. As a woman in STEM, Ms. Bechta encourages Mt. Hebron’s women to be inspired to ask for exactly what you want.