TEDxTU highlights community innovators


Courtesy of Lauren Duncan

Speakers and organizers pose on stage at the TedxTU event Monday in Dixon Hall.The event featured speakers from a variety of professions and backgrounds.

“New Orleans is like a steaming gumbo brewing with creativity, ingenuity and passion,” TEDxTU emcee and junior Will Smith said during the introduction of eight New Orleans community members at the storytelling event Monday. 

TEDxTU is a student-run event that brings TED Talk-style presentations to the Tulane and New Orleans stage. Each year since its start in 2010, TEDxTU has independently organized the event and curated its own speakers from the greater Tulane community.

“… There is only one event per year so there’s a lot of pressure though it pushes the team and speakers to deliver something incredible,” sophomore TEDxTU organizer Max Mereles said.

This year’s event, held at 6 p.m. Monday in Brandt V.B. Dixon Auditorium, featured speakers including Drew Kugler, Blake Simmons, Mariana Deluera Canchola, Tinashe Blanchet, Kelly Orians, Vincent Morton, Jade Bender and Brandan “B-mike” Odums.

Drew Kugler, who gave his third TEDx talk on Monday night, urged the audience to take a pause.

He recounted the decrease in deaths and infections from surgery after medical teams adopted the practice of pausing three times throughout the surgical procedure to check in with one another. Kugler suggested that audience members apply this lesson to their daily lives by pausing from immersion in technology and social media.

Blake Simmons, director of the biological systems and engineering division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, spoke about the importance of innovation in solutions to environmental problems.

Mariana Deluera Canchola immigrated to the United States as a toddler and has lived in five different countries. Canchola has identified as a nomad her entire life and reminded the audience that every person has value and untapped human potential, regardless of their citizenship status. 

Tinashe Blanchet, former high school math teacher and founder of The Learning Laboratory New Orleans, challenged the notion that not everyone is equipped with mathematics skills.

“Please stop saying you’re not a math person,” Blanchet said. “It’s not okay, just like it’s not okay to say you’re not a reading person.”

Kelly Orians explained the struggles facing previously incarcerated people and their transition into self-sufficiency and securing employment, as well as her experiences working in law and advocacy in New Orleans.

Vincent Morton, resident director at Katherine and William Mayer Residences for Tulane Housing and Residence Life, spoke about the power of fear as motivation and how he has harnessed that power throughout his life as means of empowerment.

Tulane freshman Jade Bender spoke about her experience as a rape survivor and her pursuit of legal action.

“[Bender] is proof that a survivor can come forward and talk about their experience without being shamed, and she gives me hope that these discussions will come to light in the future,” sophomore Ali Badgett said.

Visual artist and filmmaker Brandan “B-mike” Odums spoke about the power of art and activism in light of his own artwork and projects centered around activism.

TEDxTU 2017 was sponsored by the Forum Tulane and the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching. The event also included videos of two TED Talks, “This is What Happens When You Reply to Spam Email” and “A Visual History of Social Dance in 25 Moves.”

Leave a Comment