TEDxUConn is looking for passionate student speakers

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A photo from the TED instagram. There is an upcoming TEDx talk at UConn.  @ted

A photo from the TED instagram. There is an upcoming TEDx talk at UConn. @ted

For an upcoming TEDxUConn conference, the TEDxUConn curation committee is focusing on creating an even ratio of University of Connecticut faculty and staff or adult speakers to student speakers, Himaja Nagireddy, president of TEDxUConn and eighth-semester molecular and cell biology, physiology and neurobiology and sociology triple major, said.  

In previous conferences, there have been approximately 10 to 12 adult speakers to three to four students but now, for their eighth conference, the curation committee is aiming to select four of each, Nagireddy said.  

A TEDX event, including TEDxUConn, is a live event with presentations on a variety of topics, under a specific theme, are shared with a unique community, according to the TED website.  Nagireddy said that UConn students are a key part of the UConn community and should be represented in the conference as such.  

“[Students] are the ones that bring the talent, passion and the drive for change that UConn needs to push itself to the forefront of being a catalyst for change in the rest of Connecticut and the world,” Nagireddy said. “I think it’s so important that we pay homage to that and we utilize that and we amplify the voices of the students. They really are what makes UConn, UConn.”   

While the tentative conference is aimed to take place during the spring semester, the internal speaker selection process has begun now to ensure enough time for interviews and preparation, Nagireddy said.  

The proposed theme for this conference is “Patchwork,” she said. Prospective student speakers can use this theme as a launching point for their talks.  

“We start really early because we do want to pick the best quality speakers that we can and we really want to have time to reach out to people in the community that would be that ideal speaker.” Nagireddy said.  

Around 40 students apply for each conference, Nagireddy said. In the initial application, students must submit a two minute video highlighting their idea. From there, 10 students are chosen to present a five to 10 minute audition that “condenses their talk into key messages that they want to communicate.” The final speakers are selected after the auditions.  

“[The audience isn’t] going to remember every little detail of your 18 minute talk,” Nagireddy said. “They are going to remember the key things that you communicate and so that five to ten minute audition really gives us a sense of ‘can this person communicate what they want to communicate?”’  

The key thing the TEDxUConn curation committee looks for in a student speaker is someone who is extremely knowledgeable about their topic of choice and can show their research and passion in their talk, Nagireddy said.  

“We are looking for what is your unique idea that you are bringing to the table that you want people to get or a unique take on a common idea,” she said.  

Nagireddy said that the committee also looks for students who have clear plans on how they want to present their topic.  

“Just because someone isn’t selected to give a talk at our conference doesn’t mean in any way that their message is less valid or less important,” she said. “Typically, we also, given our time constraints, we have to pick out talks that are more well developed so if there is a talk that has a lot of potential and it isn’t well developed, it’s hard for us because we have such a quick turnaround in selecting them to having them present in front of one hundred people and give the best TED talk.”   

Nagireddy said that TEDxUConn has had a wide range of student speaker topics in the past, such as mental health issues and gun control, and that she looks forward to hearing the new potential speakers.  

“We have incredible speakers that come from all different backgrounds and talk about things that are really relevant and important for everyone in the UConn community to learn about,” she said. 

The deadline to apply to be a student speaker is Feb. 14 by 11:59 p.m. For more information, email tedxcuration@gmail.com.

Update:  After the time of reporting, the deadline has been extended to Wednesday Feb. 19  at 11:59 p.m. Himaja Nagireddy, president of TEDXUConn, said the deadline changed because the curation board is “hoping to receive more applications by promoting the event” after posting in the Daily Digest and other connections.


Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.

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