Today@Sam Article

SHSU Hosts First TEDxSHSU Event

April 11, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

Sebastian Aguirre at TEDxSHSU event

View TEDxSHSU Photos

Sam Houston State University recently hosted TEDxSHSU, the university’s first event officially licensed by TED, with guest speakers and thought-provoking conversations in a TED-like experience. SHSU is one of only a few universities in Texas to host a TEDx event.

With support from the SHSU Honors College, three faculty members led the initiative—Renée Gravois (College of Business Administration), Stephanie Bluth (the Graduate School and College of Criminal Justice), and Paul Eaton (College of Education).

The theme for TEDxSHSU was ‘Journeys.’ As described on the event website, “Each of the talks centered on a form of journeying—through the personal, professional, visionary, reflective spaces that journeys take us.”  

As a grassroots initiative, a true demonstration of partnership, excellence and expertise from across campus was needed to host an event of this caliber. 

“TEDxSHSU showcased the very best of what our university has to offer. It highlighted the tremendous accomplishments we can reach when we work together,” Bluth said.

Featuring five SHSU honors student speakers, and seven faculty and community speakers, the inaugural event included talks on a range of topics: gratitude, gardening, identity, pride, college financing, crisis response, virtual and augmented reality, patient-centered health care, burnout, the legacy of lynching in Texas, and food insecurity. 

“The speakers spent many hours writing, editing, practicing, and refining what they wanted to present,” Eaton said. “Each of them was coached and supported by a faculty organizer. Each speaker gave a truly exceptional, thought-provoking talk.”       

TEDxSHSU also included reflection and dialogue opportunities for audiences after each talk.

Ranchel Alvarado addresses TedxSHSU“This is an important part of the audience experience we sought to create, to open space to reflect on and share what message you take away from each talk and how it leads you to think differently,” Gravois said. 

Sharing her personal experience, Ranchel Alvarado, an SHSU honors student majoring in criminal justice, spoke on figuring out her identity as Mexican-American individual.

“It was important for me to present this, because the topic isn’t discussed enough,” Alvarado said. “I hope the audience gained a new perspective on people who are a part of more than one culture, and are encouraged to talk about their own identity struggles and realize their culture is beautiful.”

Gabrielle Butler, a plant and soil sciences major, spoke on “Why Failure = Success in Your Garden.”

“Participating in TEDxSHSU has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college education. Taking the HONR 3322: Journeys seminar helped me understand what it takes to prepare and deliver a TED Talk. Now, I look forward to continuing to grow and find new ways to express myself and my interests,” Butler said.

Gabrielle ButlerMany students and their faculty mentors were integral to the success of TEDxSHSU. A team comprised of videography students from the mass communication program recorded the event, under the direction of Professor Martin Gaston. The stage was designed by students in theatre and musical theatre, under the direction of Professor Nicholas Graves, and LSC student staff members gained hands-on experience in event production, under the direction of Eric Martin, LSC assistant director for technical services. HONR 3322 students and Honors Ambassadors served multiple roles in the planning and execution of the event. 

TEDxSHSU was well received by the campus community. Free admission reached full capacity several days before the event. Audience responses afterwards were positive, many expressing anticipation for future TEDxSHSU events.

“Everything about this event was amazing,” student Anthony Timmons said. “I really enjoyed each speaker and topic they chose to speak about. I came away from today with a new perspective and understanding of life. I’m definitely coming back next year.”

“It was wonderful to hear perspectives of students and faculty sharing their journeys. I also appreciated the short reflection times between the talks,” Brandy Doleshal, a mathematics faculty member added.

Videos of the talks will be available on the TEDxSHSU website in coming weeks. Plans are underway to make TEDxSHSU an annual event. 

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.) 

Gabrielle Butler TEDxSHSUcAbout TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan, and Daniel Kahneman.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the TED Translators Program, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.  Follow TED on Twitter , Facebook or Instagram.


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