Tournament Of Roses Hosts First Youth Conference

Gracie S.

Jess Rosales, Host and Moderator of This Gen 2019 talks with panelists Vivian Chan, Culinary Producer and Host of Food Network; Dave Piendak, Comedy Segment Producer of The Late Late Show with James Corden; Sarah Toutant, University of Southern California Doctoral Student in Urban Education Policy; and Ruben Dario Villa, Designer at Google and Founder of Fúchilia Fresheners

By Gracie S.
May 20, 2019

Instead of sleeping in on a Saturday morning, over 200 teenagers packed the Pasadena Convention Center on May 11 at 8:30 a.m.  Students from various high schools in the San Gabriel Valley, including public and private schools, all came together for #ThisGen2019, an inaugural half-day conference aimed at empowering youth. Students came together to learn about breaking barriers and overcoming obstacles to reach their goals. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses, a volunteer-driven non-profit organization, took over five months to plan the event, which was described as an interactive forum designed to engage youth in the Southern California community and empower them for the future.Students were drawn to the conference for different reasons. “I heard about This Gen through my Girl Scout Troop leader,” said a sophomore from La Cañada High School. “I came to this conference to gain some leadership skills. I also saw that Katelyn Ohashi, a gymnast at UCLA, was a keynote speaker for this event, and I want to go to UCLA.”

Featured speakers included a 2018 Olympic Bronze medalist figure skater as well as a producer of The Late Late Show with James Corden.  In total, nine keynote speakers shared their messages about following their dreams to inspire teens to make impactful life choices and start thinking about their future.

“My dad is in the Tournament of Roses, and he thought it would be a good idea for me to come to This Gen, especially because it is the first year it is happening,” said an eighth grader from The California School Of the Arts-San Gabriel Valley.

“We wanted to ensure speakers not only came from diverse backgrounds but also had stories that the audience could relate to,” said Mariela Spillari, the Senior Manager of Parade Development and Events for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses. “We pooled together our internal contacts and resources and decided who we should contact, but we were hyper-aware of whether their individual stories would impact our expected audience.”

With a packed audience, This Gen had a great start to its first year. The many students who attended were able to share their passions and interests with one another. The conference for next year is currently in the planning stages with a series of keynote speakers already lined up.