The university held its fifth annual TEDxBrandeisU event—a series of talks organized by students trying to empower voices in the community—on Saturday, April 2. The theme of the five speakers’ talk was New Paths to Discovery, Scarlett Ren ’24—TEDx Coordinator and Speaker Coach—explained to The Brandeis Hoot in an interview.
“I’m grateful for the people,” Ren told The Hoot, “the speakers themselves are very talented individuals which is why I keep doing this… I get to see how other people see the world… it’s about the bigger world outside of us.”
There were five speakers at the event each from the Brandeis community—including undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni, Ren told The Hoot. The speakers for this year’s event included: Herlyne Das ’18, Jermey Huy (GRAD), Xu Simon (GRAD), Jeffery Arnold and Thabang Matona ’24.
Ren explained that each of the speakers came from different backgrounds and career paths, so the coordinators of the event had to come up with a theme that could, “bring together not just the ideas of what they were talking about—which is the main emphasis of [TEDx], because [TEDx] is about ideas that are worth spreading. But also at the same time we wanted to leave the audience with something to look forward to.”
The theme New Paths to Discovery, Ren explained was intended to encourage community members listening to the talks, “to find their path, their discovery, their new selves because there is always that one certain point when you have this ‘ah-ha’ moment in life.”
Das is an alumna of the university who went on to receive her masters from Tufts University in Biomedical Sciences. In her career she has become the owner of “DasMedicine” and is co-founder of “Those Determined to Help”, according to a post on the TEDxBrandeisU Facebook page.
Huy is a current masters student in computer science, though he has a background as a composer, conductor, music instructor and data curator, according to a post on the TEDxBrandeisU Facebook page. Huy is combining his computer science skills and musical talent to better understand “artistic phenomena” according to the page.
Simon earned her post-doc from Brandeis, according to a post on the TEDxBrandeisU Facebook page. Xu currently serves as a Chief Technology Officer at Enzo Technologies, according to the post, and she specializes in finding a common ground between executive and technological priorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) industries. Xu worked in the U.S. Department of State’s diplomatic anti-chemical weapons program office where she worked in international crisis management during the Syrian chemical weapons crisis in 2013, according to the post.
Arnold is a current student at the Heller School for Public Policy, prior to attending the heller school he served in the U.S. Army, according to the post. Arnold served in the Army in September 2015, where he was deployed to Syria as a Human intelligence Collector, according to the post. In his role, Arnold attended courses at the Defense Language Institute and after receiving his degree from the Heller School he will return to the U.S. Army as an officer.
Matona is a current undergraduate student studying Business and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He graduated from the African Leadership Academy where he helped organize and develop entrepreneurial leadership in more than 30 countries, according to the post. Matona also has worked in youth development organizations as a program facilitator, according to the post.
Ren told The Hoot that she worked closely with Mandy Feuerman—Assistant Coordinator of TEDx—and the rest of their team to plan the event. Planning began before winter break and each member of the committee was responsible for coaching the speakers. Committee members would provide feedback to speakers on their talks and would help create edits to their talks. The event ran for two hours, and each speaker spoke for 15 to 18 minutes, according to Ren. Ren said that each member of their committee is dedicated towards the cause which allows them to work well together to create the event.
Ren also told The Hoot of her involvement with TEDx prior to coming to Brandeis. Ren had been involved with the organization as a translator, speaker coach and a team lead for two years at TEDXUSeattle. With this experience, she is now a co-organizer of the Brandeis event.
“This event provides a platform for speakers in the Brandeis community to share their ideas, passions, and life-changing moments. By stimulating intellectual and thought-provoking discussion, we hope to support leaders, thinkers, and innovators that will change the world,” according to their website’s description of the event.
The event was sponsored by the Brandeis Education for Students by Students (ESS) group—a club on campus that provides a platform for students created by students to develop and share their ideas, according to their presence page.
ESS is responsible for two main events, one being the TEDxBrandeis collaboration and the other being Splash!, according to their presence page. Ren told The Hoot that Splash!—an event where Brandeis students teach classes to local middle and high school students—will be happening on Saturday, April 9.
ESS officially partnered with the TEDx organization back in 2017, prior to this collaboration the event was referred to as DEIStalks, according to their presence page. This TEDxBrandeisU event was the fifth annual talk, and the first one back in person since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ren told The Hoot. The university held a TEDxBrandeisU talk last year, but it was held virtually via zoom, Ren explained.
Layout editor Anya Lance Chacko is a member of ESS and did not contribute to the writing or editing of this article.