Ever wonder what it takes to get onto the program for a TEDx talk? Plenty of determination and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, says Essraa Nawar, development coordinator at Leatherby Libraries.

Nawar put both those factors into play in 2015 when she set herself the goal of presenting at a TEDx, which are independent and locally-organized TED events held around the world. Nawar knew her topic well. She is dedicated to improving cultural awareness and overturning stereotypes about Muslims. She has written on those subjects in Chapman Magazine, Huffington Post, the Orange County Register and other online magazines and blogs.

But landing a TEDx talk was a new adventure for Nawar, who holds an M.A. in organizational leadership from Brandman University. She sent applications to 10 TEDx events around the world. After a Skype audition and interview, she was accepted by TEDxTUM, sponsored by the Technical University of Munich. Nawar’s talk fit with the TEDxTUM theme of “Facets,” which focused on the diverse ways of looking at science, culture, art and public policy.

After fine-tuning her script, she spent a whirlwind three days in Munich in October to rehearse and give the talk.

“I love TED, so it was just a dream,” she says.

More importantly to the woman who often adds the hashtag #ChangeTheNarrative to her social media, was the opportunity to further her message.

“I want to change the narrative of how people see Muslim women specifically and Muslim people in general,” she says. “I want to keep doing that until people really get the message.”