I moved to San Antonio at the beginning of July 2018. I knew that I wanted to get to know San Antonio during it’s Tricentennial Celebration, I wanted to meet exciting and interested people, and I wanted them to get to know me. I thought applying for TEDxSanAntonio was exactly the way to do that, so a month after I arrived, I was applying to be a speaker.
Before I knew it, I got the call that I had been chosen to give a talk! And to top it all off, my curator was the TEDxSanAntonio Programming Chair herself — Angelica Mata Cordero! She was wonderful to talk with during our first phone call. Her enthusiasm was contagious, not only for the event but she was clearly a big fan of astronomy (she even asked me, “Is there some secret project you’re working on that you can tell me about?” The answer was yes. And I did.)
I won’t lie – I was nervous at first about rehearsing in front of the other speakers and curators, since I was still hashing out ideas for my talk. But wow, what a group of people. Everyone was kind and understanding as I waved my hands around trying to assure them, “There will be a movie here — it’ll make a lot more sense when I’ve finished the movie.” The feedback that I got from everyone, especially Angelica, was extremely helpful. She was really able to pinpoint the subtle parts that needed work, so I could really connect with the audience and have a clear message.
I’ve done theater in the past and being on stage again, a real stage like the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, was amazing — it made me so happy. On top of that, I was the closer of the show, the anchor. When the time came to give my talk….you know what, I messed up. I’m sure that I could gloss over this part if I really wanted to, since it only really affected the people in the audience, but I’ve decided I want to talk about it. In the first 60 seconds of my first try, I accidentally skipped a whole chunk of my talk — I left out the part describing the basic science of what I do! I tried to keep going but I realized nothing would make sense anymore. So, I asked the audience if I could start over again and I walked off stage. And then the most amazing thing happened, instead of being angry with me, the audience began a massive applause to welcome me back on stage! It was one of the most touching things I’ve ever experienced: hundreds of strangers encouraging me to give it another shot. And I did. I walked back out and started again, then I got through the part I messed up, and the rest is history. (So, for those of you who only got to see the video, you should know: This is the second try!) I’m entirely thankful to the audience because they were incredibly kind. So were the other speakers and curators — everyone rushed to talk to me backstage. But the support they showed me: the understanding, strength, and love, it has endeared all of them to me for the rest of my life.
So to everyone who was there, the audience, the TEDxSanAntonio production team, volunteers, the curators – especially Angelica, the speakers, and the friends for life — thank you for making that night one in a billion. I honestly couldn’t have done it without you.
2018 Main Event Speaker