For the first time in its history, TEDxBinghamtonUniversity is set to have multiple student speakers for their annual event in the spring.
According to Colleen Nugent, director of communications for TEDxBinghamtonUniversity and a sophomore double-majoring in French and philosophy, politics and law, a recent alumni member of BU will also be speaking at the conference. The event will take place in the Anderson Center’s Osterhout Concert Theater with “a small socially distanced audience.” Similar to its last conference, “UNEARTHED,” student speakers will give their talks live at the event while it is livestreamed online. After the event, the talks will be posted on the official TEDx Talks YouTube channel. The tentative date for the event is Sunday, March 21, 2021.
The application is now open for students interested in participating and can be found here. Applicants can apply as single speakers or with another person as a speaker pair. The final stage of the application process will occur in January, when the TEDxBinghamtonUniversity team will contact finalists for interview dates.
According to Lorin Miller, a director of TEDxBinghamtonUniversity at BU and a junior double-majoring in English and Italian, a record number of students applied for the student speaker position last year, which showed the organizers that they “could open up the opportunity to more than one student.”
“Our platform reaches global audiences and is the most exclusive speaking opportunity offered to [BU] students from any organization on campus,” Miller said. “We want to hear from students not just in their capacity as a student but as a human with cool life experiences, innovative ideas and unique perspectives. Students can apply either as a single speaker or as a speaker pair, so we’re hoping to receive lots of creative applications.”
Other organizers include Jacob West, director of finance and a senior double-majoring in mathematics and sociology, Sofia Fasullo, director of sponsorship and a junior double-majoring in mathematics and geography, and Ethan Stone, a director and junior majoring in business administration. Nugent thinks that having only student speakers is more feasible due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is a great opportunity to showcase the talent of BU students.
“Since worldwide travel has slowed down due to the [COVID-19] pandemic, it makes sense to source talent from the local community,” Nugent said. “We decided to narrow our focus to the [BU] community in order to highlight all the talent we have right here on campus.”
Because this event provides the potential for BU students to spread their ideas to a wide population, West said it is a great opportunity for students to let their voices be heard safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Knowing that we probably wouldn’t be able to have speakers from outside the [BU] system, we thought an all student event would allow us the flexibility to have a mostly in person event,” West said. “Also wanting to amplify some student voices in a time like this where most students are trying to get involved, we figured this would be a great opportunity to do so.”
This year’s TEDx theme, “For Future Reference,” was selected to amplify the voices and opinions of BU students. Nugent said she feels this is important because BU students have the chance to gain an understanding of their role and impact of the future.
“[BU] students will shape the future, and their ideas will be looked back on as markers of a time in which innovation and inspiration were essential,” Nugent said. “We are taking this year to highlight students’ voices, and we wanted our theme to reflect that.”
Miller noted how this years theme differs from previous years in that it is a phrase rather than a single word.
“We thought the phrase ‘for future reference’ brought together two ideas: that students are the future and the ideas and thoughts they are having during this whirlwind of a year will be worth looking back on,” Miller said.
Lindsey Sherwood, a sophomore majoring in biology, is interested in seeing what student speakers would present at the event and remains open-minded to various potential topics of conversation, such as mental health awareness and others.
“I’m sure someone will do something about COVID-19, the current political climate — it’s always good to hear all the different opinions from everyone so that you can formulate your own opinions from that and hopefully get enough information to become an educated consumer,” Sherwood said.
Sherwood said she would be less intimidated to apply to be a student speaker now, knowing that she would be performing with other students at BU.
“I think I would definitely be more interested in speaking now than I would with a bunch of other adults because they have just had so much more time to figure out all of their interests,” Sherwood said. “If it was students, it would be people with similar education levels to me, so I would definitely feel more comfortable.”
West encourages students to apply so they can lend a voice to something they truly care about.
“This is a great opportunity for someone to talk and give notice to the things they are passionate about,” West said. “Students should recognize that their ideas are important and can be expressed in an event like this.”
Nugent thinks this is a great opportunity for BU students to share their ideas on such a large platform.
“[BU] students are the future, and we want to hear their ideas and give them our global platform to share them,” Nugent wrote. “We hope this opportunity will promote a sense of community and let students know that their ideas are worth spreading.”