The University of Nevada, Reno Joe Crowley Student Union Theatre filled with business leaders, entrepreneurs, community members, faculty, staff and students on Jan. 25, as 18 talented individuals took the stage and, one-by-one, shared their inspirational and educational stories for TEDxUniversityofNevada, an independently organized TEDx program sponsored by the College of Business.
"The event exceeded my expectations," Bret Simmons, College of Business associate professor, event license holder and spokesperson, said. "Our audience of 100 consisted of people from campus and the local community who witnessed some excellent presentations."
The all-day event included four sections: health and hope; the promise and challenge of education; business and entrepreneurship; and bold ideas worth spreading.
The promise and challenge of education section included a presentation from Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez, Hug High School Principal Lauren Ford and high school senior Deyanira Baca. The told their stories, all of which focused around the idea of hope in education.
Martinez, who was born in Mexico and grew up in the inner-city Chicago school system, spoke about the optimism he has for children in the Washoe County School District.
"It is not just a job, but a mission, to make sure students will not lose hope," Martinez said.
Ford explained that Hug High School's graduation rate had risen from 36 percent in 2006 to 51 percent today.
"We must have a passion for making sure every student has the opportunity for a better life and the determination to achieve their dreams," Ford said.
Tears were shed, both on stage and in the audience, as one high school senior spoke of the promise she had found in education during her abusive childhood, and in another section of the day, a young man used singing and songwriting to cope with his sister's drug addiction.
"Many of our participants commented about how inspired they were at the end of the day," Simmons said. "The event was the University's way of highlighting the wealth of ideas and stories we have in our community."
Simmons and the TEDxUniversityofNevada event were recently honored with the New Entrepreneurial Activity of the Year Award from the Nevada's Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NCET), and will be recognized at an award ceremony on Feb. 21 at the Atlantis Resort.
TEDx was created in the spirit of TED's mission, "ideas worth spreading." The program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. Presentations at the University's event focused on the theme "Creating Community Conversations."
Another Reno TEDx event will be held on April 26 at the Nevada Museum of Art.