Sophomore Norberto Orellana was recently selected to speak at TEDx Colorado Springs. While Orellana was one of several individuals chosen to speak at the event, he is the only Colorado College student.
This is the fourth year of Colorado Springs TEDx, a self-organized TED event, denoted by the ‘x.’ A local team of volunteers with the SocialGood Fund planned and organized the event. TEDx talks stem from the nonprofit Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED). The organization has become famous for its conferences where they promote their mission “ideas worth spreading.”
The organization, created in 1984, is devoted to spreading ideas on topics ranging from science to business to global issues in over 100 different languages. The talks are supposed to be 18 minutes or less—concise yet powerful.
The theme of this year’s event is “Just Around the Corner.” According to the event’s Eventbrite, a promotional social media platform page, “Often, we don’t know what is just around the corner. There are surprises in technology, art and science, a neighbor with an amazing story, and hidden gems in our own communities.”
The speakers this year are: Andrew Dwyer, Angela Giles Klocke, Cassandra Huidobro, Dennis Alexander, Gracie Packard, Lora Higgins, Mark Tegtmeier, Nicole Nageli, Rich Hopkins, and CC’s own Norberto Orellana.
Orellana is planning on sharing his life story and the struggles he faced growing up. He spent the majority of his childhood undergoing surgeries for cerebral palsy, and throughout high school, he was in and out of homeless shelters. Yet, despite these challenging circumstances, Orellana has been able to stay optimistic. “[There’s] a benefit to circumstances and ability to achieve despite them,” he said.
Through it all, Orellana graduated with highest honors from his high school and received his associate degree. He was then accepted to CC, where he was awarded full scholarship. Orellana wants to share his story to “let it be there to inspire others.”
Orellana, originally from New York, spent the latter half of his life in Miami. It was there that he gave his first TEDx talk in early February of last year. Local news received word of his story and reached out to him hoping he would give a TEDx youth talk.
In Colorado Springs, Orellana heard about the program over the summer and auditioned, going through a two-round process before being accepted. “It feels very surreal getting to be on stage again because I don’t see myself as others see me,” Orellana said. “But I’m glad that my words help and inspire—and I’m so thankful for my friends who made this journey possible by supporting me,” he said.
To incorporate his own story into the theme of “Just Around the Corner,” Orellana said he framed his talk around the theme of “success is just around the corner. It’s not equally apparent to each person, but it’s always there in some form.”
To prepare, he spends a lot of time thinking about his talk and how he’s going to deliver the story. Instead of writing it out and rehearsing. He writes an outline, but much of the talk is spontaneous. The message is the same each time, but the way he executes it is slightly different.
Orellana will also be doing a TEDx talk on campus next month. When not giving talks, he spends time playing guitar and saxophone, cooking, baking, and reading theology. He is a chemistry major, part of CC’s Student Government Association (CCSGA), a Quest Bridge Scholar, and a Resident Advisor in Mathias.
A jack of many trades, Orellana’s parting piece of advice is that it’s “important to follow your passions, but the way I look at it, don’t let your passions dictate your heart, let your heart dictate your passions.”
Orellana’s talk at TEDx Colorado Springs will be Nov. 4 at the Stargazers Theatre. The event runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tickets are still available through the TED organization’s Eventbrite page.