Geneseo TED Talk series praises student differences, fosters necessary acceptance

The TEDxSUNYGeneseo eboard (pictured above) has planned and executed the talk series on-campus, which will be during all college hour for students to attend. The event should be commended for celebrating diversity among individuals. (Courtesy of troy hallahan/advertising manager)

TED Talks are known for their ability to captivate an audience and convey the brilliance of their speakers. 

While most viewership comes from watching at home on YouTube, Geneseo students will have the luxury of seeing TED talks live on Saturday Feb. 24 during the college’s fourth annual TEDxSUNYGeneseo event. It is important now more than ever to attend this event.

This exciting showcase of five speakers is imperative to have on-campus, as it demonstrates the significance of considering other perspectives. Refreshingly, there is a wide range of diverse ideas worth spreading among the TEDx SUNYGeneseo speakers. 

One of the speakers, Jennifer Jackson Gkourlias, is a school principal in the Rochester City School District. According to the TEDxSUNYGeneseo upcoming events page and Facebook page, she was the founding principal of Rochester’s first charter school for women, Young Women’s College Prep. Gkourlias is a Geneseo alumna who graduated in 1996. Her TED talk will communicate the significance of women leaders, stressing their notable roles in urban schools. 

Barnabas Gikonyo, director of introductory chemistry labs and chemistry at Geneseo, is an acclaimed motivational speaker and instructor on increasing enrollment of students from underrepresented groups in STEM. He graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a Ph.D. in organic and materials chemistry. Gikonyo will illuminate minority groups as he discusses their imperative representation in STEM fields.

Grace McMahon is an undecided freshman at Geneseo. She has a stutter and is bravely speaking about her experiences as a stutterer in conjunction with the importance of self-love. 

In regard to her TED talk, McMahon said that she will include “how I feel about myself now, as a person who stutters, how I learned to love myself, and how it feels to be who I am, as well as how other people should be proud of who they are, too,” according to the TEDxSUNYGeneseo Facebook page. 

By giving her TED talk, McMahon will positively display stuttering, a commonly misunderstood condition, and highlight the importance of self-acceptance.

Brennon Thompson will also present during Geneseo’s TEDx event. Thompson is a graduate from American University, where he focused on global inequality and public health, according to the TEDxSUNY Geneseo website. He has been a leader on international service trips to countries including Kenya and he has organized interfaith events. 

Currently, Thompson works as a Cultural Competence and Health Literacy Operations Specialist at the Center for Human Services Education, a division of Heritage Christian Services. By listening to a freshly graduated college student explain his prosperity in helping undeveloped populations, the audience at the event will be engaged in an inspiring discussion. 

Finally, Sandra Uwiringiyimana, author of the best-selling memoir How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, will speak during the event. In her novel, she recounts her tumultuous experiences as a war child. Uwiringiyimana fled to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo as a refugee with her family, as reported by the American Library Association. Uwiringiyimana’s perspective sheds an important light on our world’s refugee crisis, and dutifully showcases that refugees are capable of success.

The diversity of speakers and topics demonstrate the wide range of interests TED talks cover. This is imperative, especially considering the current political climate. Students must not take the opportunity to attend these TED talks for granted. They are essential in accepting one another on this campus and understanding the way others live and think.

Although the speakers will be sharing ideas ranging from leadership to stuttering to escape, all of their TED talks will deliver important messages for college students. Geneseo is fortunate to have a TEDx organization on its campus. Students should go to these events and continue to foster an environment of acceptance of diversity.