TEDxBinghamtonUniversity held its 14th-annual conference, themed “Odyssey,” on Sunday in the Fine Arts Building’s Chamber Hall.

This year’s speakers sought to center their talks around “breaking barriers and trailblazing forward toward a new future,” and audience members were given the opportunity to network with them following the event. Each speaker made fundamental changes in their careers, academic pursuits or lives that can inspire attendees, according to Jay Yong, TEDxBinghamtonUniversity’s vice president and director of sponsorship and a sophomore double-majoring in accounting and psychology.

TEDxBinghamtonUniversity, an independent affiliate of TED — an international nonprofit organization that hosts speakers and creates online video programs about various scientific, political and cultural topics has organized conferences at BU since 2014, booking both student and professional speakers.

This year, the organization showcased six speakers, including three current students and an alumna.

“As they explore the uncharted territories in their lives and careers, we wish to inspire, enlighten and motivate our audience and spread the message of perseverance and courage,” the TEDx website said.

Eden Robbins ‘16, the lead designer at Venmo, described her struggles with imposter syndrome after shifting from an athlete interested in math to double-majoring in art and design and business administration. She shared how her mother’s validation of her art ultimately led to a design career, which has included work for Meta, Adobe and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Robbins said her ingenuity was overshadowed by doubt when describing her experience in both the University’s graphic design program and her first UX design analyst job.

“I had to turn my aspirations into reality,” Robbins said. “My journey has been a wild ride. One that I would not be on if I hadn’t seen the invisible opportunity behind the discovery of my drawings and, more importantly, had the courage to act on the unknown. I live by a personal mantra, ‘complacency signals the need for change.’”

The following two speeches were given by two current students. The first, Madelyn Fried, a freshman majoring in integrative neuroscience, described the inspiration behind a civics-based video game she created to educate her peers about civics. (Ya Chen, a third-year Ph.D. candidate studying industrial engineering, spoke about her research into bioprinting, a process similar to 3D printing that constructs living cells. She highlighted her grandmother’s biological heart valve replacement, reducing the need for future surgery, and compared it to the potential for her own research to “fabricate artificial capillary vessels.”

During intermission, Sulpoong, a Korean percussion student group, performed for attendees. After, Johnny Stanton IV, a former football player, recounted his history of injury and what it taught him about himself.

“I learned that I must love the game a lot to be able to fight back from each one of these injuries, each one of these times getting cut and have to redouble my efforts to be able to make it back to anywhere close to where I was before,” Stanton said. “Any time I have the opportunity to speak to high school students, this is really what I try to hammer home.”

Stanton explained that his adaptability allowed him to explore his other interests — becoming a Dungeons & Dragons influencer and game publishing company owner. He will speak with athletes about developing a brand outside of their sport on his podcast, Athletics Check.

Riya Bolander, a senior double-majoring in psychology and music, expressed their struggles with amatonormativity — the expectation that people should prioritize and desire romantic relationships. They claimed that it harmed both aromantic and romantic people by “creating an unnecessary hierarchy” and causing love to be “monopolized by romantic partnerships,” harming platonic relationships.

Erin Reed, a transgender journalist focusing on trans rights amid reactionary political backlash, spoke on trans people’s presence throughout history — from Enheduanna, humanity’s first named author, in Mesopotamia over 4,000 years ago to trans people today. Even with greater representation, civil liberties and medical care than in the past, activists and advocates are still battling anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

“In the last three years, over 20 states have banned some level of gender-affirming for trans youth or adults — sports, bathrooms, LGBTQ+ books, and more,” Reed said. “These laws have forced trans people to feel that they have to flee from their home states. In Indeed, a recent data Data for Progress poll has showed that 8 percent of [trans] people have already fled their home state[s] … with an additional 40 percent considering leaving … If this continues … this could be one of the largest political migrations in modern [United States] history.”

Even with an ongoing international harassment campaign to demonize and exclude trans people, Reed said that some places are moving in a positive direction and that she is hopeful for the future.

“The overarching theme for all of our talks this year is honoring the journeys of our speakers, who are at the forefront and changing the paradigm of their career and industries,” Yong wrote in an email. “They will be sharing about the importance of the paradigm shift they are passionate about, and the endless possibilities that may entail for all of us.”