Speaker Series

Speakers for Parents and Students: Different paths to success

Success can be defined in many ways and there are many paths to success. When children see someone face to face and hear them talk, it makes a deeper impression on them. “Different paths to success” speaker series gives us and our children the opportunity to hear people from varying backgrounds talk about their work and share their insights on what success means and what got them to where they are now.

Please mark your calendars and make use of this wonderful opportunity to have your children meet people who can motivate them to think about the world around them and get insights on what it takes to be successful.

If you have questions for either of the speakers on the topic, please send a concise summary of your question to speakerseries@santiagohillspta.com. Questions will be compiled and sent to the speakers ahead of time so they can address it during the talk.

Find more posts about upcoming speakers here.


Previous Speakers

Mr.Brian Arandez, CEO &Founder of Thingify Inc, talk about 3D printing and entrepreneurship.

Mr.Arandez graduated from the University of the Philippines in 2006 with a degree in computer science. Immediately after graduating he was invited to become a director and owner of Laserite Systems.  He later built a new company in the Philippines, SerBIZyo, thatspecializes in building payroll and inventory management software for the Philippine business environment. In June 2012 Brian came to the United States. A month later, he conceptualized a 3D printing company with all the services necessary to take anyone’s idea from “think to thing”. In September 2012, Thingify, Inc. was incorporated.  The popularity and awareness of 3D Printing is exploding. It is breaking down barriers in design and manufacturing, and making what was previously impossible, possible for anyone with just a basic understanding of the technology. Mr.Arandez will talk about 3D printing and his experiences as a founder of Thingify Inc and about his views on being able to think creatively and getting a broad education  for today’s world.

Alex McDonald, project manager for the OC team at the Solar Decathlon

Alex McDonald is a mechanical engineering graduate student at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California Irvine. He helped write the winning grant that led U.S. DOE to select Team OC as a participant in the Solar Decathlon. He also has a wealth of professional, academic, and community service experience. Team OC designed an innovative, net-zero-energy house that draws inspiration from the California state flower: the golden poppy. His work has been covered in numerous media publications including New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, National Geographic, NBC, Huffington Post, Architect Magazine, and a documentary is currently being filmed about his graduate work. He has done extensive volunteer work in different settings and comes with a wealth of experience and knowledge.

Dr. Shrivastava, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist

Dr. Shrivastava will talk about “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle” and take charge of your health.

Dr. Sangeeta Shrivastava is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist and has PhD degree in Nutritional Biochemistry. She works as a nutrition science faculty with the Art Institute of California, Orange County and as a clinical dietitian. Sangeeta is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2003 and also has served as the speakers bureau chair for the California dietetic association – Orange district.

Above all, Sangeeta is a Santiago Hills parent, room mom and yearbook coordinator for her two sons who attend Santiago Hills Elementary. She deeply cares and believes that a healthy lifestyle has great potential in preventing many chronic diseases and promote overall health.

She will take any questions parents might have about nutrition and health and will provide evidence based answers. Please come and join us and “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”.

Nigel Nisbet, Vice President of Content Creation at MIND Research Institute

Mr. Nisbet will talk about “Math learning, comprehension, and proficiency”.

Armed with a degree in mathematics, and early success as a rock musician with several hit songs in Europe and the U.S., Nisbet began his education career by teaching a class of 15 at an idyllic private all-girls school in rural England. After moving to the U.S., Nisbet taught Mathematics, AP Physics, and AP Computer Science at Van Nuys Senior High, where he was a pioneer of integrating technology into the classroom, and utilizing project-based learning to engage students’ critical thinking skills. Leaving the classroom in 2006, he became a Mathematics Specialist for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

A passionate believer in the power of all students to learn mathematics conceptually, Nisbet joined the nonprofit MIND Research Institute team as Senior Mathematics Specialist in the spring of 2010, becoming Vice President of Content Creation in 2014. In addition to leading MIND’s project team in the creation of middle school curricula, including Algebra 1, Nisbet travels the country on behalf of the organization and speaks on such topics as “STEM Is a State of MIND” and “So You Think You’re Ready For Common Core.”
Nisbet received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at Queen Mary University, University of London in 1990. In 2009, Nisbet received a Master in Educational Administration at California State University Northridge.

Ian Byrd, Gifted and Talented Education

Ian Byrd taught gifted students in Garden Grove, California and grew up as a gifted kid himself in the same district. On his journey to become a teacher, Ian earned a degree in Computer Science, briefly played bass in an almost successful rock band (The Red West), and married a fashion designer (Mary May Byrd). He now writes about gifted education at Byrdseed.com to an audience of 20,000 monthly visitors and develops videos at Byrdseed.TV. Additionally, Ian is a technical advisor for Swun Math and OCC GATE. Mr. Byrd is also a nationally known speaker who discusses such topics as differentiation, how to effectively teach writing skills to gifted learners, inspiring advanced mathematics learners, and meeting the social-emotional needs of gifted students in public schools today.

For additional information, visit http://www.byrdseed.com.

Mrs. Kelly McKinnon, Applied Behavioral Analysis

Kelly McKinnon, MA, BCBA is the Director of Behavior Intervention Services at The Center for Autism and other Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Kelly has 20 years’ experience working with adults and children with various developmental disabilities. Kelly moved to California in 2002 where she completed her first book, Social Skills Solutions. Kelly is a frequent speaker around the country about implementing ABA programs effectively.


Dr. Elizabeth Roberts, Child and adolescent psychiatrist

Dr.Elizabeth Roberts, child and adolescent psychiatrist, will talk about anxiety and focus issues in children and also about her experiences going to medical school while raising three children and becoming a successful psychiatrist.

Elizabeth Roberts, MD is a board-certified Psychiatrist who treats children, teens and adults at two locations in California. She has appeared on The Oprah Show, The Today Show etc. Dr. Roberts is the author of the book Should You Medicate Your Child’s Mind? A Child Psychiatrist Makes Sense of Whether or Not to Give Kids Meds.

Mrs. Shannon Alfarro, STEM education, Designing Apps

Shannon Alfaro is a computer science professor at the University of California, Irvine. For the past 3 years she has been the project manager for AppJam+, a program where UC Irvine undergraduates mentor middle-school students from all over the Orange County to develop STEM-themed apps.