TEDxUConn aims to inspire

Senior Marissa Piccolo gives a TED talk about the importance of women in politics especially following this year's election on Sunday, April 9, 2017 in Laurel Hall. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus)

The fourth annual TEDx talk at the University of Connecticut was held Sunday, with this year’s theme being “catalyst in context.”

Thirteen speakers presented, and ranged in topics and academic standings such as professors, alumni, graduate and undergraduate students.

TED talks are a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas usually in the form of short, powerful talks 18 minutes or less. TEDx talks are the same format, but are independently organized from TED.

Hamsa Ganapathi, an eighth-semester chemistry major described the theme as “something can stay constant in your life, but can inspire you to do more.”

The conference began with Shar Govindan, who is an elected alumnus to UConn’s Academy of Distinguished Engineers. His talk encouraged audience members to “Do YOUR How.”

Govindan asked the audience to ponder about our thoughts and ideas, and why only a small percentage of them go from an idea to an action. He explained that “doing your how” is when you think and come up with a list that will take you to your goal or the change you would like to see.

Another talk was given by Samuel Kebede a third year MFA acting candidate, which focused on “a new take on professions.”

When asked what advice he’d give to undergraduate students who are still hesitant on their career choice, Kebede said, “I think you have to ask yourself what you are good at and what you like to do.”

He went on to say, “Just because you are good at something you do not have to do it. As for me I worked in a lab in order to in the future heal minds, but with my acting I can also work and heal the mind where through acting I can provide joy.”

The UConn Chordials perform during TEDxUConn in Laurel Hall on Sunday, April 9, 2017. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus) 

The UConn Chordials perform during TEDxUConn in Laurel Hall on Sunday, April 9, 2017. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus) 

Another speaker at the event was Ronald Rohner, an Emeritus Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at UConn. He shared his six-decade-long research findings involving personal acceptance and rejection.

“There are neurobiological effects in rejection, which disrupts early brain development as with learning and memory. In adulthood, the biomedical effects range in conditions such as Cancer, Stroke, Cardiovascular diseases and much more,” Rohner said.

Rohner concluded his presentation with information about how giving affection has greater benefits than receiving it, so he told the audience to stand up and hug the person next to them.

Some other speakers included interaction with the audience within their talks.

Nandhana Sajeev, eighth-semester economics major and minor in human rights and English at UConn, ended her talk about expressing emotions by shouting “Hey, I think somebody’s watching,” and had the audience yell back “no shame” to reiterate how listeners should not have shame.

Ganapathi, who has worked for TEDxUConn since her freshman year and is now on the organizing board, provided some final thoughts on the event.

“It's been amazing to see new students come through and hold the conference. It provides great resources for students and member of the UConn community to learn about others ideas and how they are trying to put their footprint on the world.”


Sharon Sorto is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at sharon.sorto@uconn.edu.