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Sean Swarner: Redefining Impossible

Living fearlessly, he’s inspiring cancer patients to dream big, reach high, and never give up. Sean Swarner holds nothing back when it comes to living, in fact, he’s up for any challenge. Obstacles that would instill fear in most, Swarner has added to his list of accomplishments. Climbing the highest mountain in the world? Check. Beating cancer? Check. Competing in grueling athletic events? Check. After beating cancer twice, Swarner decided that there was more to life than school, work, and mundane hobbies. He dropped out of college, sold everything and set his sights on the top of the world. So, he climbed 29,035 feet to the top of Mount Everest, making him the first cancer survivor to do so. He’s also climbed the highest mountain in each continent, competed in the Hawaii Ironman and skied at the North and South Poles. His mind-over-matter attitude is what has allowed him to transform tragedy to triumph. Through it all, he continues to be an advocate for cancer research. He’s the winner of the Never Give Up Award presented by the Jimmy V

Tullis Onstott: Subterranaut

Finding life in the underworld could lead to possible discoveries in other worlds. Imagine a young boy standing deep inside the imposing chasms of Carlsbad Caverns, disappointed he couldn’t spelunk any deeper than 1,000 feet. When the advertised “bottomless” pit revealed itself to be a mere 140 feet, its actual bottom concealed in darkness, Tullis Onstott became more than intrigued. Already enthralled with the wonders of indigenous life in the terra above him, he hungered for knowledge about this fascinating underworld. He found his life’s quest: the search for subsurface life. Caves for a Neighbor Onstott was born in otherworldly Carlsbad, New Mexico; the very town named for the epic chasms that would draw him to a career far beneath the earth’s surface. Thousands of visitors pass through the monstrous caves every year jaws agape at the sheer size of it. But Onstott had other fascinations. He wanted to see what lived there, if anything. And if it did hold life, what kind? His life’s work would soon provide the answer not just for himself, but the world. The Science

Cyrus Schenck: How I started a Ski company

Creating the best job in the world. Hello, my name is Cyrus Schenck and I run a ski company. People say I have the best job in the world — but let me set the record straight. It’s been 8 years, 6 months and 21 days since I started RENOUN. It’s been one of the hardest things I have ever done — taking more time, and more money than I ever thought necessary to get where we are today. It’s not always been fun, and often times has made me feel stupid and crazy for even attempting to start a company in a shrinking, over-saturated market. Well, maybe because it is a stupid idea to start a business in a market like this. Yet, here I am. I funded RENOUN by washing windows — for 7 years. Yep, I was was washing windows all summer years after we won our first international ISPO Gold award. Years after we sold our 100th ski. Years after our first Patents. RENOUN wasn’t funded by some big investor group or wealthy parents – it

Tharanga: Hitting the High Notes

For this world-class opera diva and visual artist with a yen for science, reaching for the stars is only the beginning. Listening to a recording of famed opera star Kiri Te Kanawa for the first time roused a desire to sing opera within a 12-year-old Sri-Lankan girl. Little did Tharanga Goonetilleke know that she would one day become an international star in western classical music. She would rise to fame and grace world stages singing operatic works ranging from classical to modern by Mozart, Puccini, Ravel, Joplin, Offenbach, Handel, and others. Tharanga has a full lyric soprano voice described as “magical” by The Washington Times and “appealingly rich” by The New York Times. Singing in character is a specialty of hers, by fully immersing herself into a character and giving it soul. Favorites include Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Genevra in Ariodante, and Mimi in La Bohème. Her lyric soprano voice has captured the hearts of audiences all over the world including her home country and has built a large following. Tharanga has performed at some of the world’s top

Nancy Schiesari: Esteemed Filmmaker

A compelling storyteller, she brings the untold stories of wartime to film. For some, TV is something to pass the time, but for others like Nancy Schiesari, TV is her passion. There are documentaries which make you change your worldview —movies which alter your perception of “ordinary” things. It is interesting to think about who is behind these movies and how they come up with creative ideas. Schiesari, an Italian-American director, creates documentaries that mostly deal with the themes of war. They encourage the viewer to rethink the facts and small details that they never thought deeply about. Echoes of the Past World War II left a huge imprint on her family. Schiesari’s parents picked up roots and moved from Italy to Mississippi, where she grew up. Her father was a doctor during the war. Her aunt was a member of a partisan anti-fascist movement which organized resistance activities. Schiesari applies her craft mainly on war-related films as a tribute to her parents and her heritage. In adolescence, her dream was to become a painter, which is why she decided

Nadine Strossen: A Frequent Flier for Free Speech

Nadine Strossen was not only the first female President of the American Civil Liberties Union—but also its youngest, leading the organization from 1991 to 2008. Currently the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School, she continues to use her platform to forward the cause of civil liberties/human rights all over  the U.S. and also abroad — from criminal justice and drug law reform,  to gender and reproductive rights, to free speech for even the most despised  expression.  Strossen looks forward to assuming emeritus professor status next year after having taught constitutional law for 35 years; the ACLU Presidency is an unpaid, volunteer position, so even though she was an extremely active President, she also worked full-time as a law professor throughout her tenure. When she steps out of her law professor role, Strossen will miss the regular interaction with her NYLS students, but she looks forward to maintaining – and even increasing — her intense pace of public speaking and media interviews, which have averaged about 200 per year, and have brought her to about

Dr. Aubrey de Grey: On the Brink of Immorbidity

His research is leading to regenerative and anti-aging breakthroughs that could end human aging. Fountain of Youth In the 16th century, Spanish explorer and conquistador, Ponce de Leon traveled thousands of miles across the ocean in search of the fountain of youth. The elusive fountain was never found, but people haven’t lost hope in staying forever young. Today, people all over the world try to fight aging the best way they know how – some spend hours in the gym, some try bean-burgers and tofu, and others use Botox and chemical peels to turn back the hands of time. While these changes may add a few years to one’s life or patch one’s aging ego, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a biological researcher, author, and anti-aging evangelist, has another option – one that puts your 1,000th birthday within reach. Growing Up Raised in London by his mother, de Grey holds onto the child-like curiosity she instilled in him to this day, leading him to question death. She was an artist and encouraged him to pursue more technical subjects like math and science. He

James & Lisa Crowe: Impacting The Universe

Jim and Lisa – they dreamed, they dared, they’re helping to solve some of humanity’s most difficult challenges. It was meant to be. They met at a Halloween party, he dressed as a punk rocker and she as Tarzan’s Jane. Each was in their first year of medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Initially friends, their companionship grew into love over the years. A week before graduation in 1987, they married and flew off to Europe for their honeymoon, skipping their commencement ceremony. Dr. James Crowe, Jr. and his wife, Lisa, have been inseparable ever since, each excelling in their own careers and always in loving support of each another. Love for family is the bedrock of Dr. Crowe’s life and its preciousness is what drives him to do his work. Seared into his memory is a pivotal moment in his life while on a medical mission in Africa. He recalls the desperate cries of a poor family seeking help for their child. He offered to help but the child died in his arms. The

Sarah Begum: Journalist & Explorer

Exploring the world, her reporting sheds light on important issues and raises awareness on the plight of those who have no voice. Count on Begum As an explorer and journalist, Sarah Begum is on a mission to uncover the mysteries of life. Whether the task is to discover new places or unearth interesting stories, count on Begum to lead the investigation. Sarah is an explorer, TV Presenter, journalist and activist. Her stories appear in various publications and cover her experiences on topics such as travel, adventure, history, anthropology, conservation, the environment, and humanitarian causes. In her spare time, she practices martial arts. Other times she’s in the rainforest documenting the effects of environmental degradation on an ancient civilization, helping typhoon victims in the Philippines, or reporting on issues important to the Muslim LBGQT community in London. She chooses to work on projects where the need for awareness is great and to help us understand the perspective of those affected. While her work takes her to faraway places, the underlying themes in her works remain the same — culture and people.

Alex Berenson: Fact and Fiction

The Information Landscape Today, a type of hybrid journalism has taken root across the media world including daily news periodicals, 24-hour cable news, traditional television networks and social media websites. It is a melding of news and opinion comprised of both fact and fiction, whether intended or otherwise. The societal impact of such a voluminous hodgepodge of uncertain content has yet to be fully understood but one thing is certain: the opportunity for audience manipulation is more rampant than ever. Therefore, every consumer of information has a heightened responsibility to vet the subject matter carefully, fact check, and then form their own educated opinions. Operating in this provocative environment is a multitalented, award-winning writer named Alex Berenson, who for over two decades has been serving various portions of this stew of current news, opinion, fact and especially, fiction. In assessing his impressive writing skills, one might say he is multi-dexterous. If you haven’t already, let’s meet this fascinating man. The Facts Born in 1973 in New York and raised in Englewood NJ, Alex Berenson graduated from Yale in 1994 with