TEDxBinghamtonUniversity is returning for another year in March, and organizers have chosen its student speaker, who aims to explore stories people tell themselves about themselves in his talk.

David Mathews, a sophomore double-majoring in integrative neuroscience and philosophy, will be the 2020 student speaker for the TEDxBinghamtonUniversity conference.

Each year, TEDxBinghamtonUniversity selects one student speaker who has “an idea worth sharing” through an application and interview process. Lorin Miller, one of the directors for TEDxBinghamtonUniversity and a sophomore double-majoring in English and Italian, said this year’s selection for the student-speaker role was competitive and a difficult decision to make.

“We received a record number of student-speaker applications this year,” Miller wrote in an email. “Of those 28, we invited 12 applicants in for interviews, where candidates gave us a pitch of their talk.”

Miller said the four TEDxBinghamtonUniversity directors chose Mathews as the 2020 student speaker because he was well prepared, lively and entertaining.

“As directors, we look for speakers who not only have an idea worth sharing, but who can present their idea[s] in an accessible way while keeping the audience engaged,” Miller wrote. “Mathews was the candidate that did both of those things best.”

Mathews said the main idea behind his talk is to explore how people envision themselves.

“It has to do with the fact that what we think and what we remember has a lot to do with who we are today,” Mathews said. “The different questions some of these memories bring up, the different concepts that they bring to mind and the different parts of ourselves that we see in these specific stories all have a lot to do with who we are today.”

Mathews attributes some of his fondest memories to growing up in New Hartford, New York, and said his childhood played a large influence in creating the idea for his talk.

“My upbringing had a large part to do with my talk,” Mathews said. “Most of the stories that I will be bringing up will be from earlier [in] my childhood so where I’m from definitely has a large impact in my talk.”

In his free time, Mathews said he enjoys listening to podcasts and videos discussing new ideas, specifically in psychology and philosophy.

“Psychology is [a field] that I can see myself in,” Mathews said. “Right now, I’m pre-med trying to pursue [a career] in psychiatry.”

Mathews said he feels that the TEDxBinghamtonUniversity platform is a great way to get ideas across because of its accessibility to the student body. He said he values diverse opinions and believes in personal growth through interacting with these perspectives.

“The reason why I applied for this talk is because I went to last year’s conference and was really impressed by all the diverse speakers they had,” Mathews said.

The 2020 TEDxBinghamtonUniversity event will be held on March 22 on campus.

Editor’s note: Miller contributes to Pipe Dream as a copy editor.