BY ELLIE DETWEILER
The fourth annual live TEDx speaker event held on Friday, April 13 featured talks on mental health, dyslexia, Type 1 diabetes and cannabis legalization under the topic of “Beginnings.”
With about 40 attendees, the organization held their event in the Cowles Library Reading Room where admission was $5 for Drake students and $8 for the general public. Along with each admission ticket came a gift box, including a succulent, a pen and a TEDxDrakeU sticker.
Julie Uram, the president of the TEDxDrakeU organization, is a sophomore studying sustainability and resilience and rhetoric, media and social change. Uram became the president after all of the executive committee graduated her first year when she was the environmental chair for the organization.
“In the summer, I decided I didn’t want (TEDxDrakeU) to die so I recruited some friends who weren’t over-committed and we’ve been kicking it ever since,” Uram said.
To begin, Logan Spacek, the public relations chair, introduced the event and after a video from the creators of TED Talks, invited the first speaker, Anna Steenson, to speak. Steenson is a junior at Drake studying both music and digital media production and has been an avid researcher of dyslexia since her diagnosis in the 10th grade. Her talk included a personal animation video of what it is like for a dyslexic person to read and master a concept.
“I know, by unlocking my potential and embracing vibrant diversity, my future is endless,” Steenson said.
Jessica Booker, a first-year studying psychology, was the second speaker, explaining her relationship to mental health, focused on the idea of misconceptions about depression. Booker was excited to be involved with a TEDx Talk as she enjoys its approachable and easy-to-understand nature of framing the education of new concepts. Booker was diagnosed with depression seven years ago and now uses her platform to educate others on why understanding and respecting someone’s mental illness is crucial to their well-being.
“Regardless of what the origin is, it’s not our place, as a society, to judge [mental illness] as invalid or it doesn’t exist,” Booker said. “Cultural enrichment is always something to improve on. No one knows everything, and one person’s opinion doesn’t shape the world.”
Claire Davison, who is attending Drake’s law school next year, shared her research on legalizing marijuana, which was part of her senior honors thesis. Davidson gave a history on the legalization of marijuana, highlighting states like Colorado and California and brought in examples of the opioid crisis.
“A closer look into this debate opens a number of possibilities, we just have to be willing to build it from the ground up,” Davidson said to end her talk.
The audience was then invited to help themselves to food and refreshments during intermission and were welcomed back by Nicholas Vollmer and his concept of mind, body and spirit and its implementation in his life.
After a 2017 trip to Nairobi and Mount Kilimanjaro with the organization Above and Beyond Cancer, the third-year pharmacy student found guided meditation and reflection. Inspired by the Dalai Lama, Vollmer led his own two-minute guided meditation for the audience, hoping to inspire them to incorporate their well-being through self-reflection in the future.
Next, Karli Borcherding spoke on her experiences with Type 1 diabetes. The third-year pharmacy student, who was diagnosed at 10 years old, proceeded to join the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) which led her to meetings with Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson and actor and activist Michael J. Fox. Borcherding ended with her favorite quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” said by Walt Disney.
In the past, TEDx only had students, faculty and community members giving speeches. But this year, Tony Loyd, the creator of the Social Entrepreneur Podcast, ended the event with his speech. Residing in Minnesota, Loyd found TEDxDrakeU on Facebook and reached out to Uram. Loyd spoke about how “Miracles find you while you’re in motion.” Loyd used various personal examples of using innovative solutions and dedication to a goal to personalize his speech. His career advice for a meaningful life revolved around the question, “When does your journey begin?” and ended his talk with the answer, “Your journey begins every time you take a step towards your dream.”