Our keynote speaker, journalist Ariel Helwani, will share his journey to become a successful sports broadcaster. He’ll talk about dreaming big, overcoming self-doubt, and finding your path.
Helwani has been covering mixed martial arts professionally since 2006. He is the reigning five-time World MMA Award Journalist of the Year winner. Helwani is a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Workshops for Teens
Each teen will get to attend two workshops - they are all 40 minutes each. When you register for the conference, tell us your top 3 picks and we'll do our best to give everyone their top choices!
Building your team: relationships that help you get through
How do you adapt when you get thrown a giant curve ball? How do you create your own “team” of mentors, friends, etc., who will cheer you on? And how can you be someone else’s cheerleader when they need it the most?
Adia Wilson thought she had it all figured out. After managing MHS track and football teams, she was excited to go to college and pursue a degree in sports and recreation management. She planned on making the most of attending school in Philadelphia - working Eagles and Flyers games and pursuing a career in sports. What she didn’t count on? Getting sick and having to take a year off from college, missing out on what her friends were doing, and rethinking her career plans. But, what seemed like the worst year of her life led her to a whole new plan and a new appreciation for her own “team” - the people who showed up for her when she needed them most.
Brandon (BJ) Rogers
DIY construction: How to build yourself, so you can build the life you want
“Put yourself out there,” they say. That is easy to say, and hard to do.
Brandon Rogers used to be called BJ at MHS, where he was a Peer Leader, Captain of the Swim team, and a passionate artist. The transformation from BJ to Brandon included 10 years in DC, graduating from The George Washington University School of Business, running an award- winning hip hop Dance Team, and working for companies such as Zipcar and Livingsocial. But it wasn't until moving back to Montclair to join his brother and father as owners of Wyanoke Builders, that Brandon realized he had some crucial self-work to do. While BJ was a moody but happy kid, Brandon became a stressed and incredibly anxious adult dealing with depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse.
Managing million dollar projects with hundreds of different people, he started to think heavily about construction as a metaphor for personal growth. Hear how Brandon came to see that he was a solidly built house that just needed some renovation. He’s learned how to be authentic, and that authenticity leads to amazing experiences and connections.
Sketching your own path: being okay with being uncertain
If you do make choices, you will have to come to terms with it. But if you NEVER make the choice, you lock yourself down.
Britton Korbel still wonders - did he make the right choice when he left college to pursue an art career? Did he miss an opportunity? Is there even such a thing as a “right” choice? How do you make choices and be okay knowing there was another option?
As an Art Director, Animator, and Graphic Designer with ArtCamp, Britton is fulfilling some life-long dreams. He’s been drawing since he was a toddler, creating a host of quirky, haunting, witty, and beautiful characters over the years. Art was his constant and his source of joy on a sometimes rocky road through Montclair Public Schools. Britton chose an untraditional path to build his art career, which has led him to work on incredible projects like music videos for Bright Eyes and Thom Yorke, a commercial for national nonprofit WelcomeUS, and a campaign for Hermes. Even with this success, Britton wonders - what if he had made different choices along the way?
The Beauty - and stress - of ambiguity
Influencer and make-up artist. Model and animator. Living with anxiety and confronting an array of uncertainties and self-doubt. Cami Amorocho’s life is full of “ands” - and she’s learning to embrace the ambiguity. As a teen, she didn’t quite know what her passion would be, but she knew that she was artistic, and she has followed that lead down many paths. Diving into Instagram and social media, she discovered that she was good - actually, great - at make-up artistry and fitness. Collecting almost 12,000 Instagram followers on her make-up and fitness journey has had its ups and downs, but she is learning that she is creating her own multi-layered story. Even though Cami still seeks direction, she’s recognizing that there is no one right path. Cami can’t wait to hear about the “ands” in your stories - and maybe even share some make-up, fitness, and Instagram influencer tips she’s picked up along the way.
Making Scents of What’s Hard
Genna started Purpose Nine in the middle of 2020 when she felt like she had no purpose.
Genna took a class in 9th grade in candle-making. (Yep, making candles). Little did she know that this simple-seeming craft would become her passion, her business, and her own path to a sense of mental wellness. Genna has struggled with mental health for the majority of her adult life. She kept quiet about her struggles in fear of being judged; she reached rock bottom and felt completely hopeless and lost in her thoughts. When Genna explored different ways to calm her anxiety, she came back to candles and how they help her to focus on her senses when she feels overwhelmed. Now, Genna creates candles and hosts workshops that remind others just how special they are through her own business, Purpose Nine. Purpose Nine is dedicated to erasing the stigma that surrounds mental health one day at a time.
ADHD is My Superpower - what’s yours?
What if what you think holds you back is actually your superpower?
Do you ever think someone’s success may be due to a superpower? Marina Miller would say you’re right. But, it may not be what you expect - Marina says her superpower is her ADHD. For a long time she thought her tendency to rush through things and think big while skipping the details were problems to hide or try to fix. Then she realized that what she thought were her weaknesses are actually her strengths. Come hear how Marina learned how to turn her “problems” into powers, and explore how to look at what is hard for you as YOUR superpower.
I did all the right things and I regret it
In high school, Ruth Ro was a straight A student (actually, A+). She focused on getting the best grades in the toughest classes (including math), working as hard as she could, and getting into a top college. Fast forward to today, and Ruth is a principal architect at a major NYC firm. But, wait - what did we fast forward over? In college, Ruth discovered that there was a lot more to herself than top grades and a math major, and that she preferred classes that excited her even if it meant her grades went down as her curiosity went up. Ruth’s professional path is marked by a broad range of careers and a collage of experiences - including 4 years as a painter and a successful stint as a bartender. The end result? She has diverse skills, an ability to build connections with a spectrum of people, and a creative approach to challenges. Ruth discovered that she learned more by being in the places she wasn’t expected to be in, than if she had stayed on the path she started in high school. Her biggest regret? That she didn’t discover it sooner.
Entrepreneurship for social change
Creative thinking and a willingness to embrace change are important tools when navigating life after high school. Stevanie Rhim is an entrepreneur, public speaker, and change-maker (and a senior at MSU). Motivated by her own experience as one of only a few students of color in a largely white high school, Stevanie launched her own approach to necessary transformation by helping students critically examine real world issues and activate change. Stevanie will share her story and, using strategies she’s developed, take participants through a “U of Change” experience - how can you look at a complicated issue and consider hard questions that invite conversation, not easy answers?
LinkedIn: Stevanie Rhim
Bringing Change to Church Street
Growing up in Montclair, Zane had a feeling he wouldn’t be doing what all his friends were doing, or what his mother wanted him to do. But he knew what he was good at (cutting hair) and pursued it (went to cosmetology school, got a license). And in 2021 Zane opened the first Black-owned business, Keycuts Barbershop, on Glenridge Ave, and now he’s moved it to Church St in the heart of downtown Montclair. What he didn’t know - until he was in it - was how his plans and his success would be shaped by racism and gatekeeping - in college, at home, in business. Zane turned his dream into reality.