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Members of the University of New Haven’s TEDx Club recently hosted TEDxUNewHaven, the University’s first event officially licensed by TED, featuring student speakers, thought-provoking conversations, and networking opportunities.
March 13, 2021
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
When Alice Yi '22 founded the TEDx Club at the University of New Haven during the Fall 2019 semester, she hoped to foster a sense of community by encouraging discussions about local issues. She also hoped to host an official event licensed by TED. She recently did just that.
Now president of the club, Yi helped organize the University’s first official TEDx event, which she cohosted with Alvin Tran, Sc.D., MPH. A nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas – usually in the form of short, powerful talks – TED covers a myriad of topics, including science and global issues. TEDx supports individuals or groups hosting local, independently organized TED-style events around the world.
“Being involved in the University's first TEDx event was an enriching experience because we made history that day,” said Yi, a health sciences major with a premedical studies designation. “This was my first time putting together an event of this caliber, and I am proud to have brought the existence of TEDxUNewHaven into fruition along with the dedication of the TEDx Club members, while creating the opportunity for all students to attend an official TEDx Talk at the University.”
After applying for a TEDx license, Yi led the club’s effort to organize the event, following TED’s guidelines. TEDxUNewHaven, with the theme “Looking at Tomorrow from Today,” encouraged attendees to imagine how what happens today can impact our future.
Created to unite students who are interested in the spirit of TED, the TEDx Club endeavors to create a platform for discussion. Yi hopes the first TEDx event fostered a conversation that inspired the University community.
“I felt it was important to amplify voices within the University community and to set the foundation of TEDx events at the University of New Haven,” said Yi. “I hope attendees learned that with perseverance and focus, anything is possible, regardless of how unfamiliar the territory might be.”
‘The status of innovation has never been brighter’
Showcasing five undergraduate and graduate student speakers, the event included discussions on topics such as the use of cognitive behavioral therapy in deterring juvenile crime as well as positivity and happiness. Elizabeth O’Donnell ’22, a nutrition and dietetics major, discussed the effects of nutrition on America’s obesity crisis, emphasizing the importance of wholesome ingredients in food and the role of sustainability.
“It is not as hard as you think to live a sustainable life,” she said. “Not only will sustainability help better our environment and our earth, but it will provide better health for us in the future.”
Dr. Krishnan Nandabalan, president and CEO of InveniAI, a drug discovery and development company focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning based in Guilford, Conn., delivered the keynote address. A leader in biotechnology, Dr. Nandabalan discussed AI, as well as innovation and how it can impact the future, especially in healthcare.
“I would argue that the status of innovation has never been brighter,” he said. “There is democratic access to two of the key ingredients needed for innovation: information and technology. The third even more important ingredient is human ingenuity and creativity.”
‘Positive feedback and support’
The event, held on the virtual platform Canapii, included a live Q&A session, as well as two breakout networking sessions.
“Our inaugural TEDx event far exceeded my expectations,” said Dr. Tran, an assistant professor and assistant provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Despite an ongoing pandemic, our students persisted and organized an event of the highest quality and adhered to public health protocols. I felt incredibly proud of the students as I watched them give their compelling talks. It has been a privilege to serve as their faculty adviser. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with next year.”
Yi says that although it was challenging to organize and host TEDxUNewHaven amid the pandemic, she felt it was a successful event and a wonderful experience. She especially enjoyed connecting with the speakers, and she’s looking forward to joining them next year.
“I felt both fulfilled and relieved, as our collaborative efforts were met with positive feedback and support,” she said. “One of my favorite parts about organizing this was seeing their talks, speaking styles, and confidence shine on the day of the event. I do plan on speaking at our 2022 TEDxUNewHaven event!”