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That's What SHE Said: I’d Put My Money on Garret Hoff

The rumors, events, people, and stories keeping the Mesa interesting


Youth leader Garret Hoff engages and impresses Peter Salk, Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, Anita Raj, Jay Silverman and several other thought-leaders who attended the A4E Global Empowerment Summit. | Photo by Calit2

Rumor has it...

Hmm… where to host the first ever World Beach games—San Diego, Dubai or Sochi? Are you kidding me? I guess they had to make it look fair by allowing other countries the chance to compete. In a unanimous vote last Friday, the Association of National Olympic Committees chose our city to host the 2017 Inaugural ANOC World Beach games. Damn straight. San Diego is the perfect city to host this event for so many reasons. We celebrate an active outdoors lifestyle, have the world’s best beaches and a booming multi-cultural population to welcome guests from around the world. Why am I stoked? Just want to host the ultimate welcome reception on the Mesa for these World Beach games. Classy soiree for Black’s Beach, dress code… “optional.” Seriously though. This is another great opportunity, like the Kyoto Prize event, to bring global awareness to our region. Will be conducting a “formal,” well, we know that word doesn’t exist in my vocabulary, but interview nonetheless with the very person instrumental in helping get these games to San Diego—Feben Yohannes. More to come… In the meantime, just noodle on this exciting announcement. Our region is about to come up in a major way!


Come sit by me...

Today I sat on a panel that was not only created, but also moderated by a fifteen-year-old student from Francis Parker High School. Capturing and holding the attention of 500 high school teenagers is a miracle in and of itself. To have a captive audience of youngsters listen to a panel whose subject is community awareness and engagement? Seriously? Can we get this kid a trophy please? You could hear a pin drop. (Well, maybe it was a cell phone that fell all the way down the bleachers). Garret Hoff, an accomplished public speaker, stood poised in front of his peers while leading the discussion. Speaking in front of your entire high school student body would seem a daunting task. Garret was a master behind that podium. Why is this newsworthy? Because this brave young soul is a high functioning teenage boy living with autism. And he is kickin’ ass and takin’ names.

Garret, diagnosed at the age of 3, has had a long and inspiring journey in overcoming his diagnosis. The Hoff family sold their home in order to enroll Garret in Lovaas 40 hours per week. This program had a proven track record, and helped Garret become kindergarten ready with an aide. Garret was yanked out of class to attend his mandated therapy sessions but any parent or guardian who has a child with an IEP knows that these sessions are disruptive to the child’s school day and too often sub-par. Mind you, it is by no fault of the specialists, but rather the system that has speech and occupational therapists seeing upwards of 60 kids a day. But without the sessions, the child cannot have an aide in the classroom. So in addition to regular class and therapy sessions at school, he also had another round of speech, occupational, and music therapy at home all the way through 4th grade.

Fast forward to the present. Garret, currently a sophomore, serves as the ASB Community Director at Francis Parker. He has been involved in community service since he was only 7, volunteering at Autism Tree Project Foundation (ATPF). Other volunteer gigs have included the Faulkner Mayoral campaign as well as the recent A4E Global Empowerment summit. Garret not only razzle-dazzled our VIPs at the summit, but engaged in the Q&A. Jaws dropped when I mentioned his age. No one had any idea he was also a kid thriving with autism. Mature beyond his years, Garret is destined to be a politician. Future leader? Garret already is a leader. Gamblin’ ain't my thang, but I’d put my money on this kiddo.

You can see Garret rock the mic at ATPF’s Inaugural Neuroscience Conference November 5th! He will be joined by other ATPF young leaders as they discuss what it is like “Living with Autism.” Fellow panelists are high school junior Derek Matlock, nine-year-old Daniel Soto and Savine Cogar, 18, who serves as the ATPF Girls Mentor Program spokesperson and co-directs the Teen Time Program with Derek. I’d also make a point to attend the one-on-one with Joel Anderson. Joel, autistic, is an artist, author and speaker whose work is absolutely moving. 

The entire conference brings together the best researchers in the biz to learn and share. As Dayna Hoff, mother of Garret and co-founder of the foundation, explains, “our goal in creating this Inaugural ATPF Neuroscience Conference is to create a heart connection between the families we serve every day and the world class neuroscience community, right here on the Mesa, right here in San Diego.” No question where this little rock star gets it. But that’s another post… See you at the panel. We can cheers to these amazing kids at the reception.


Upcoming Events (I’ll be at the fun table…)

  • Adventures in Oceanography
    Monday night the Birch Aquarium presents “Adventures in Oceanography” as part of their Perspective Lecture series. Scripps oceanographer Dr. Dale Stokes will guide you through a collection of dramatic images both underwater and topside. These images span more than a decade of work and also include unusual vessels and research instruments. Sounds like the perfect learning getaway.
    Nov 9, 7-8 p.m., Birch Aquarium

  • The Science of the Magical
    Elixirs, oracles, spells, and gateways to underworlds… The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination will host science correspondent and author Matt Kaplan as he brings the audience on a journey to explore “The Science of the Magical.” Wicked!
    Nov 10, 6:30 p.m., Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, Atkinson Auditorium at Qualcomm Institute

  • Analytics in the Wild
    The Rady Technology Club is hosting “Analytics in the Wild.” You had me at Wild… For the rest of you, yes, it is an event on what’s on everyone’s mind… BIG DATA. Their second annual conference aims to demonstrate how leading technology companies leverage big data for “bigger impact.” The day starts with two keynote speakers, a panel, Q&A, my favorite. Oh wait, then a catered networking mixer. Okay, mixer first, Q&A second. Be sure to check out the link as this has an impressive list of speakers from Google, Cisco, Qualcomm, Acccenture…
    Nov 13, 2-7 p.m., Rady School of Management



Amanda Caniglia

Amanda earned a degree in political science at UC San Diego before embarking on a career teaching languages and dance. She is a self-described "networker extraordinaire” and co-owner of Bella Vista Social Club and Caffe, located on the bluffs of the Torrey Pines Mesa. Leading researchers, CEOs, and top graduate students frequent the café to talk science and surfing. You want to know what’s really going on around The Mesa? Ask Amanda. 

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Life On the Mesa

Where innovation and discovery happens in San Diego

About This Blog

Did you know they are making tiny livers in Sorrento Mesa? They are! Real ones. This blog will tell that story, and many others like it. Whether you're a grad student slogging it out in a lab or a post-doc grappling with funding issue, a scientist waiting on a breakthrough or a banker looking for the next big thing, or even a parent, spouse, friend or curious observer of these people, this blog is for you. It's a place to celebrate and discover what's happening on The Mesa. The science, the business, the people. The discoveries, the stories, the impact. It feels like most of us in San Diego don't know enough, yet, about this stuff. We're here to work on changing that. We'd like there to be some discussion of science, technology and innovative-type things at every cocktail party on San Diego, and hopefully this blog can help provide the fodder. 

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