A Reflection from a Student and SXSW EDU Presenter

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By Tessa Simonds

I recently had the privilege of not only attending the SXSW EDU conference in Austin, Texas, but I also got to speak on the behalf of One Stone. I spoke for what is called a Future20, meaning I had 20 minutes to share my ideas, stories, findings, and answer questions. It was a solo speech so I was on the stage with just my racing heart and my marked-up notes. There were many people interested in what I had to say because I am a 17-year-old-student talking about the importance of the future of education.

I was able to share what it was like for me to take the jump and unlearn the way I have been told to learn for the past 10 years of my life. I talked about the importance of trying a multitude of things, whether that be in the form of a job, internship, or a high school class, in order to be able to know what you are truly passionate about potentially pursuing as a career. And most importantly, I talked about of having the opportunity and support to try these new things free from the repercussions of failing a class or losing a job.

I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to share about my experiences and the importance of student voice in schools, daily life, and the workspace.

Tessa is a One Stone student who recently presented at South by Southwest EDU, an internationally recognized education conference. Her presentation "Employability and the High School Experience," was selected out of 1,400 submissions. She was the only solo high school student presenter at this conference, and she delivered her talk to a standing-room-only audience.