VALPARAISO — Walking the talk was the goal of a group of student organizers of TEDx Valparaiso University on campus Friday evening.
About 100 people attended the program, which featured 13 speakers sharing stories focusing on the theme “Why Not Today? Conversations Encouraging Action.”
Lauren Tehan, a senior at VU and director of marketing for the program, said the seven student board members who organized the event wanted to help attendees reach their goals — whatever they might be — and put their thoughts and ideas into action.
“Why sit around and wait for tomorrow?” asked Tehan, of Valparaiso. “Take action today — be proactive.”
The concise TED-style talks — generally 5 to 18 minutes long — were delivered by students, alumni, faculty and community members, and reflected the theme of taking action in various realms, including business, leadership, teaching, nonprofits and philanthropy.
In “Teaching Beyond the Ceiling,” 2005 VU alumnus Chad Chenowith proposed basics lessons about teaching, including placing teaching above discipline, creating a balance between educating and entertaining, and differing teaching methods based on the student.
“Gifted and talented” or “high ability” students are those who are frequently neglected academically, Chenowith said.
“They aren’t getting challenged in the classroom like they need to be,” Chenowith said. “So often, they act out … they’re bored … they’re frustrated.”
Chenowith said good teachers make opportunities for students and give them the best chance to succeed.
In her talk, “Lead The People, Not The Project,” senior Daina Mueller provided three ideas for good leadership.
Mueller encouraged the audience members who strive to be leaders to communicate with emotional intelligence, be a role model and communicate and inspire a shared vision.
“Passion inspires people, passion gets people excited about what they are doing, passion is contagious,” Mueller said. “Passion allows us to do great things and come together in an inspired shared vision.”
The evening’s talks were divided into three sessions, and after each, the audience was separated into groups to discuss what ideas inspired them and how they planned to put their own goals into action.
Hannah Sergent, who helped organize the event, said groups were devised in a “reflective and proactive way.”
“We want them to talk about their goals and personalities and help each other create an action plan,” said Sergent, a nursing major from Millington, Michigan.
Ashita Bhatnagar, one of the organizers, said this was the third TEDx session at VU since 2016.
After first securing a license to operate the event through the national TED organization, she said the group put out a call for speakers and received about 35 applications from students, faculty and community members. The students interviewed and auditioned each speaker to determine the lineup. Tickets for audience members were limited to 55 students, 15 community members and 30 staff members to ensure an intimate group.
Bhatnagar said the free TEDx tickets are a hot commodity, as they “sold out” in just four hours.
The students, who began planning the session in April, find the work rewarding and a great way to apply the communication and leadership skills they learn in the classroom, Bhatnagar said.
“It’s a lot of work, but so much fun,” Bhatnagar said.