Tournament of Roses Connects with Younger Generation at #ThisGen2019 Empowerment Event

Published : Saturday, May 11, 2019 | 4:48 AM

The Tournament of Roses is reaching out to the younger generation Saturday morning with an uplifting special event, #ThisGen2019: A Youth Empowerment Forum.

A diverse group of high-achievers will stage an interactive forum where attendees can learn about breaking barriers, overcoming obstacles, and following their passions and dreams.

“Attendees,” The Tournament said, “will leave feeling inspired to be courageous, confident and intentional with the choices that impact their lives.”

David Eads, executive director and CEO of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, said the program also represents an opportunity to connect younger people with the Tournament.

Tournament of Roses Executive Director / Chief Executive Officer David Eads

“The Tournament has a long history of working with youth here in the Pasadena region,” Eads said. “But this is just our effort to expand our footprint a little bit in the type of programming that we do with young people. This is a new program, which obviously we believe will reach a broader audience.”

Eads said the Tournament of Roses has a history of working with youth with the Royal Court, which already works with young women in high school and college and offers a student ambassador program and a college intern program.

Eads said the #ThisGen program has a goal to be an annual event and more than 300 students are expected to attend.

Accomplished young professionals across a variety of fields will be on hand to speak as panelists at the event. The idea is to bring together high school and college-aged students to learn and discuss topics related to career, networking and personal development.

“We wanted speakers who young people can identify with,” Eads said. “When you look at the list of panelists and speakers, it’s very broad, very diverse. They each bring a different set of experiences to the forum. And addressing things like the challenges of being an athlete, overcoming obstacles, how to achieve your goals, or goal-setting, they all have amazing stories.”

One is Quinton Peron, one of the first two male cheerleaders in the NFL. Peron said he achieved his goal by being open to opportunity. He will be speaking on the opening panel of the morning entitled “Breaking Barriers.”

“Dance was never my career of choice,” Peron said. “It just happened because I allowed myself the opportunity to be open-minded with everything I’ve done. And some things may not work out. The career of your choice may not be for you. So I think if you like to be open and not be afraid to try new things, you never know what new adventures may lie ahead.”

Peron will be joined by Mirai Nagasu, Olympic Bronze medalist in figure skating, and UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi.

Sarah Toutant, doctoral student at USC, has spent a lot of time in Pasadena since her sister lives here. She will be speaking on the panel called “Building Your Brand,” with Vivian Chan, culinary producer and host for the Food Network and Dave Piendak, comedy segment producer on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Toutant said it’s important that the Tournament of Roses connects to the youth of today.

“I think it’s necessary to do so and I’m looking forward to seeing how the youth will respond to it,” said Toutant.

She said her sister lives in Pasadena and she has watched the parade and the annual Rose Bowl game since she was a little girl and she’s happy to be invited to speak.

For Toutant, she believes motivation and planning go a long way in pursuing a dream.

“As far as motivation, whether you’re going into school or whether you’re going into a career or whether you’re an entrepreneur, regardless, I think that everyone has to find their own motivation to do what they want to do,” she said. “So, I just encourage the readers to sit down and be self-reflective and figure out what they want to do, create a plan and execute it.”

Piendak, who is also on the branding panel said he never expected to go into comedy for a living. He attributes his good fortune to people who helped give him a hand up.

“The importance of finding a good mentor is critical to finding a good career path, finding someone who you can look at and say, ‘well, that’s where I want to be 10 years down the road,’” he said.  ”And that’s always helped me. And then the importance of giving things a try. I studied American history in college. I had no idea that I would end up working in comedy and television. I took a chance on an internship and got it and gave it a try that I realized, oh yeah, this is exactly what I want to do.”

“Our panelists and the people chosen to speak at this event are the perfect examples of those who have had to break barriers to be successful and who have had to overcome obstacles,” said Jess Rosales, sports broadcaster, who will moderate.

Rosales said sometimes reaching your goal takes time and to accept that can be difficult.

“It doesn’t happen overnight and that’s something I had to learn,” she said. “I would have liked somebody to tell me that it’s OK to have failures because you learn from those. When a door closes sometimes it could be a good thing and not every opportunity you go for is meant for you.”

Daraiha Green, Global Head of Strategic Partnerships for Google will provide the keynote address.

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