In his years as a Plano Independent School District student, Arbaaz Karim has built quite an impressive resume: from launching a clothing line to organizing a mental health and wellness campaign and to getting accepted to Harvard University, where he will attend in the fall. But before Karim walks the stage as a graduate of Plano Senior High School, the 18-year-old will close off his final year with a historical milestone.
This Sunday, May 15, Plano Senior High School will host its first-ever Ted Talk series. Organized by Karim, the series, which will also be the first in Plano ISD’s history, will center around the topic “What’s Next?”
“Our goal is to talk to students that are going to be 11th and 12th graders about to graduate high school,” says Karim, “and we're wanting them to get a more focused perspective from people that have taken nontraditional and traditional routes on what they can do after high school to guide themselves to a path of success.”
Speaking at “What’s Next?” will be Yoram Soloman, founder of the Innovation Culture Institute and author of The Book of Trust, Frank King, a suicide prevention speaker, Courtney Ramsey, a leadership development consultant, James Keyes, who has served as a Chief Executive of Blockbuster Inc. and 7-Eleven, Nayla Morshed, a Plano Senior High School, a published author and an enthusiast of Islamic studies, and Rudy Arora, a 17-year-old business owner and venture capital intern.
Karim admits that the process of securing an official Ted Talk at Plano Senior was not an easy one. This entailed explaining to the Ted organization and to the school administration his vision and what the ideal takeaways would be. For months, he went back and forth with Ted. But he says that the process was worth it.
“We always encourage our students to get involved on campus with their strengths and passions,” said Plano Senior High School principal Jeff Banner in an email to Local Profile. “We reiterate that if there isn’t a club that interests you on campus, then start one. Arbaaz did just that and started a non-curricular Ted Talk Club. We are proud of Arbaaz for his involvement and actions to enrich and take ownership of the well-rounded educational experience we provide at Plano Senior High.”
In addition to several empowering lectures, there will be a photo booth for students and families to take pictures and gifs for social media. Karim plans to stream the lectures via Facebook and YouTube as well. He hopes to fit as many of his classmates as he can into a group picture to hold as a memento from this time “10 to 15 years from now.”
At Harvard, Karim will study economics, as he feels it is a subject that offers a “really great fundamental analysis of the world.” He looks forward to meeting people from diverse backgrounds and diving into the space of entrepreneurship.
But until then, he hopes to inspire his peers to look forward to the next chapter, whether the path they follow is traditional or not.
“The motivation behind this really has been always to try and make a positive impact on others,” Karim says, “whether that be through donating something to somebody or just giving them a compliment on a random day. That’s what I wanted to kind of give back to my student body and the people I grew up with throughout the years.”
TedxPlanoSeniorHS takes place Sunday, May 15 at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase here.