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Paragon alumna speaks at TEDx

Sept. 5, 2016

Gala Palavicini seeks cultural bridges

Photo of Gala PalaviciniApplause all around for Paragon Science Academy alumna Gala Palavicini, as she spoke about cultural bridges at an Aug. 13 TEDx event organized by the Chandler Public Library. The speech was titled “A Tiny Dot in the Universe.”

“I heard about TEDx while working as a volunteer at the library,” says Palavicini, “and decided to audition before the event Talent Board. From the beginning I knew I wanted to talk about something that people could identify with. I moved to the U.S. about a year ago from Mexico because of its violence, so it just seemed natural to talk about this. I wanted to talk about everyone who was like me -- refugees, immigrants, daughters and sons of people who had moved somewhere else -- and felt like the world sometimes forgets about the challenges of that.”

The 19 year old says she was excited and nervous to speak before the TEDx audience but let her passion inspire her. The result was what exactly what TEDx organizers hope for: an increase in conversation and a sense of community.

“After my speech,” she says, “people told me they identified with me. I made a lot of new friends and learned about very diverse opinions.”

Palavicini graduated from Paragon Science Academy in Chandler, one of the Sonoran Schools network of STEM K-12 academies in metro Phoenix and Tucson, in May 2016. She is now in her second semester as an online student at the National Autonomous Mexican University where she majors in International Studies. She hopes to enroll at a U.S. university to pursue a degree in politics or global studies, and continue to improve her Turkish and French, which she speaks in addition to English and Spanish. A career in diplomacy is a possibility.

Palavicini credits Paragon Science Academy with inspiring her commitment to continued learning in a global arena.

“My experience at Paragon Science Academy was beyond amazing,” she says. “I learned from people who were simply incredible. My life changed as a result of attending Paragon because I chose my major after I understood that people can be different but can also be like family.”

Palavicini says all her teachers were helpful, but offers special thanks to Brianna Logan and Asli Karatas. “Ms. Asli has been my mentor from the beginning. In my speech, I wrote about some of things I have learned from her, like kindness, empathy and tolerance,” she says.

Family --”the most important thing in my life” -- also gets credit. Palavicini's father, Carlos, works as an agricultural crop advisor. “He is amazingly good at giving speeches,” she says, ”so he is always there to make my speeches more fun, but also more educated.” Mother Katy is a Spanish teacher who also lectured in Hispanic literature, writing skills, and education. Palavicini’s brother, Liam, who is a senior at Paragon Science Academy, and the family dog Maya also get credit for “listening to my endless talks.”

TEDx events such as the one in Chandler are planned and coordinated independently under a free license granted by TED. TED is a nonprofit that began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged.

Read more about Gala's story on the Arizona Charter Schools Association website. Visit the Sonoran Schools YouTube channel to see a snippet of Palavicini's speech.