Four Mercerians will share their unique ideas and perspectives during the University’s first TEDx program. Faculty, staff and students are invited to the event at 6 p.m. April 23 in Willingham Auditorium.
The venue will be limited to 100 guests, so seats must be reserved in advance. Organizers will have a list of everyone who has registered, so attendees don’t need to print out anything. The program also will be livestreamed, and the link will be posted on the TEDx Mercer University website. Afterward, it will be shared on that website and video excerpts will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
TED, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “ideas worth sharing,” hosts two conferences each year where the world’s top thinkers and innovators tell their stories. TEDx brings that experience to the local level. These events are organized independently by people or organizations who have applied for and been awarded free brand licenses from TED.
Shruti Jha, a public health major, is the student responsible for bringing TEDx to Mercer. Having watched many TED videos herself, the senior began to wonder if Mercer could have an annual TEDx event and discovered through her research that TED grants licenses to universities.
“I’ve always loved watching TED talks,” said Jha, executive director of TEDx Mercer. “I think it’s such a great way to bring ideas to light on campus. Another thing I wanted to do was have a stage not just shared by faculty and students but alumni, so there can be a little bit of perspective of what students can do after college.”
Jha applied for the TED brand license with faculty adviser Dr. Megan Pannell and was approved in late July. Then, she went through an application process to select 12 students for the organizing team, and the team worked with Mercer’s Student Government Association to establish TEDx Mercer University as an official student organization. Dr. Gabrielle Darville and Dr. Jacob Kendall also came on board as additional faculty advisers for the organization.
Jha said planning the first event has required a steep learning curve, but she has a great team that is ironing out all of the logistics. The theme of the upcoming event is “Embark,” and four speakers were chosen out of about 30 applications.
Mercer School of Medicine professor Dr. Bonzo Reddick practices medicine at the JC Lewis Primary Health Care Center, a federally qualified health center and designated health care center for the homeless. Biomedical engineering professor Dr. Ha Vo designed an innovative, low-cost prosthetic leg that has now helped improve the lives of thousands of amputees.
Mercer medical student Stormy Orlin was an IT product manager in Silicon Valley before she redirected her career. Mercer alumnus Caleb Brown is an accomplished artist, influential speaker and former athlete.
While the first TEDx Mercer event must be limited to 100 attendees due to the licensing terms, Jha hopes to present the event annually and open up future events to the community.
“Mercer is so big on changing the world. It’s a great platform to show Mercer’s talent and how many ideas we have just on campus here,” Jha said.