The science of finding one’s passion: NextSCV features City of Hope at September event

Heather Duncan speaks at The Main in Old Town Newhall Wednesday afternoon in a presentation hosted by NextSCV identifying and developing the next generation of leaders in SCV. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.

About 50 people gathered at The MAIN Wednesday to talk about the science of finding one’s passion, the topic of NextSCV’s September presentation with the City of Hope.

Every month, NextSCV, which provides opportunities for the next generation of leaders to connect and grow the local business community, takes those between the ages of 21-40 behind the scenes of a leading business.

This month, the nonprofit featured City of Hope, a cancer treatment and research center in the Santa Clarita Valley.

In a TED-style talk, three City of Hope physicians discussed how young leaders could use their passion to enhance productivity in their careers and their experience with accomplishing their goals.

Speakers included Dr. M. Houman Fekrazad, oncologist;  Dr. Kristina Wittig, urologic surgeon, and Dr. May Lin Tao, radiation oncologist.

Fekrazad shared how his journey with cancer led him to create a patented chemotherapy patch. Wittig told audience members about her medical advancements with robotics, while Tao discussed how she helps improve patients’ quality of life.

NextSCV’s Heather Duncan, who spearheaded the event, said a poll at the beginning of the event revealed that most attendees have felt “burnt out” in their careers.

“Lots of young professionals suffer from overload, getting overwhelmed by wanting to progress in their professional life while having a lot of responsibilities,” said Duncan. “The answer is a balance.”

Fekrazad shared an analogy where a jar is filled with rocks, pebbles and sand. Rocks represent one’s more important factors in life such as family, career and passions. Pebbles stand for secondary parts and sand is “all the other extra stuff. You then shake it up, and the mixture is this balance where you have rocks and pebbles supporting and the sand putting it all together.”

Physicians also encouraged young professionals to trust themselves and their passion, especially when one has a knowing desire.

James Kneblik, a volunteer at NextSCV and speaker at the event, said the event was not just about science. “It’s about helping young professionals understand the community they’re in. We are all about trying to create a well-rounded young professional that gives back to the community and continues to be a leader in the Santa Clarita Valley.”

NextSCV’s coming event is scheduled at the Valencia Hyatt on Oct. 24. For more information visit

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