TEDx conference encourages creative thinking

Students and faculty members poured into Doty Recital Hall for Geneseo’s first TEDx conference on Saturday April 4. Entitled “Beyond the Blackboard,” the event featured a range of student, faculty and alumni presenters. According to event manager senior Taylor Quaranta, the speeches centered on the idea of “taking the unbeaten path.” The TEDx conference challenged audience members to think outside the box, as multiple presenters spoke on various platforms focused on “the road less traveled.” From junior Benjamin Conard’s talk promoting fair trade as an alternative way for consumers to get their goods, to assistant professor of anthropology Melanie Medeiros’ reflective “I took the path less traveled, and that made all the difference” speech, audience members were encouraged to step out of their comfort zones to try something new.

TEDx Club founder and organizer sophomore Hannah Loo created the theme for its first year in Geneseo in an effort to heed to TEDx’s commitment to encourage audience members to think of new ideas.

“The goal was to have people speak about things we wouldn’t essentially learn in class,” Loo said. “TED wants speakers to inspire audience members to think outside the box.”             “Student speakers talked about things they wouldn’t have talked about if they didn’t do TED,” Quaranta added.

Chemistry major sophomore Jordan Griffen spoke about the way society has conditioned students to believe that wealth and success are equivalent. “I tried to break down that mindset and show students that there are other ways to be successful,” he said. Griffen’s speech focused on creating a personalized version of success.

“Part of my talk is defining success for yourself, and it is going to be different person to person. Examples I used were Warren Buffett and Thomas Edison,” Griffen said. “Tentatively, I would say, for me, success is finding peace of mind.”

Quaranta noted that TEDx Geneseo’s theme personally encouraged her to start thinking intuitively. “The theme applied because I’m about to graduate and I don’t know what I want to do,” she said.

Other speakers at TEDx included Howard Blumenthal ‘74, chair and State University of New York Distinguished Teaching Professor of chemistry Wendy Pogozelski, campus photographer Keith Walters ’11 and interim President Carol Long.

After beverages and snacks, TEDx’s executive board encouraged audience members to participate in building a tower as tall as possible using only newspaper and nothing else. The motive behind the activity was for audience members to note the different approaches people can have despite being in the same situation.

“I would like to see more faculty attend TEDx and for our speakers to expand,” Loo said.

“Our passion for hearing the ideas of the Geneseo community really helped us,” Quaranta added. “I really think TEDx can become a staple campus event in the upcoming years.”