TEDxUniversityofNevada 2015: rave reviews from in-person and virtual attendees

In its third year, the event brought the crowd to its feet with multiple engaging speakers, performances and thought-provoking topics

TEDxUniversityofNevada 2015: rave reviews from in-person and virtual attendees

In its third year, the event brought the crowd to its feet with multiple engaging speakers, performances and thought-provoking topics

Twenty passionate speakers took the stage Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, as part of this year's TEDxUniversityofNevada event. With talks widely ranging in topic, speakers gave it their all as they presented their "ideas worth spreading." The result was a sold-out audience going through a range of emotions as they laughed, cried and stepped back from the experience aware of the limitless possibilities and potential implications for what they heard.

"TEDx events have become a coveted, deeply personal and transformative experience for all involved, especially when attending in person," Tiffany Brown, TEDxUniversityofNevada event team member, said. "And not just because of the content of the talks or the quality of the speakers, but because of the shared learning experience, the range of emotions felt, and the insights collected along the way."  

TEDxUniversityofNevada boasted six published authors and two recording artists. In its third year, the event, put on by the University of Nevada, Reno's College of Business Online Executive MBA, met increasingly high expectations. 

"Each person who took the stage offered incredibly personal insight creating a definitive mood and sentiment with our audience," Bret Simmons, associate professor in the College of Business and TEDxUniversityofNevada event organizer, said. "That's one of the elements that's so great about this type of event. A speaker's passion is transparent and passionate speakers, regardless of the topic, not only resonate with the event-day audience but are also the ones who also resonate with online viewers once the videos are posted."  

While the event sold out in presale this year, nearly 200 people viewed the livestream that was also available. Here's a brief recap of the day broken down by session.

Session 1
Liz Wiseman, a nationally-known leadership research and development expert, kicked off the day encouraging everyone to live with child-like wonder, have fun and not be afraid to be the rookie. She was followed by University student and Nevada Student Speaker Competition Winner, Juan Lopez who communicated his personal challenges with stuttering. Using his experience as a metaphor, Lopez encouraged everyone to find and accept "their stutter." University staff member Jo Harvey then took the stage and shared how the key to an addict's recovery comes down to the stories that are told. Hugh Hempel started his talk with a poignant story of his 11-year-old daughters and the benefits they've experienced with medical marijuana. After calling for an end to the prohibition of cannabis research, Hempel introduced his wife Chris and two daughters, Addison and Cassidy, as they took the stage and received a warm birthday welcome. Musician Tim Snider eloquently ended the first session by flooring the audience with his loops of electric violin, guitar and vocals.  

"@JuanVLopez great job today at TEDx! Thank you for the inspiration and encouraging us to look at things from a different lens! #tedxunr" - Heather Schaefer  

Session 2
University faculty member Mignon "Grammar Girl" Fogarty led the second session encouraging people to embrace language change. Her talk focused on the natural evolution of language explaining how people vote on language through usage. IBM's tech optimist Michelle Killebrew advocated that technology could eventually make us more human. Next, Erica Greve, founder and CEO of the anti-human trafficking organization Unlikely Heroes, shared the impact a hashtag - #bringourgirlshome - had in the Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping. Her big idea focused on the importance of everyone raising their voice to cause positive social change. Budding scientist, musician and STEM educator Misha Raffiee, who at age 20 is a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), then talked about the need to stay curious and ask why. The session concluded with Nicole Hockley, a mother who tragically lost her son Dylan, one of 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Hockley shared how small but meaningful actions can create lasting change.  

"I was fortunate enough to hear Nicole Hockley speak. If you don't know about Sandy Hook Promise, you need to. Everything they are doing is EXACTLY was needs to be happening in this country. This is not about politics. It's about keeping our communities safe. #‎SaySomething#‎knowthesigns" - Heidi Parker

Session 3
Former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores started off the third session with her life's story. Touchingly told in a matter of minutes, Flores encouraged others to keep their eye on the prize and make the best with the hand they're dealt. Local restauranteur and University graduate student Shila Morris followed Flores with her and her family's version of the "American Dream." Documentary photographer Vincent Cianni then shared the cultural, personal and political consequences of the ban on gays in the military. Following Cianni, University Chief Diversity Officer Reginald Chenn Stewart expressed how it will take every single one of us to eradicate cultural illiteracy offering three steps in order to do so. Musician and LGBT people-of-faith advocate Jennifer Knapp closed the session with three songs weaving her narrative with her music while sharing candid revelations of her experiences as a gay person of faith.  

"From gang member and inmate to lawyer and legislator, @LuchFlores' story is awesome and inspiring. #TEDxUNR" - Misty Young  

Session 4
Leadership professor and thought leader Barry Posner kicked off the fourth and final session. His talk focused on the leadership traits people most often look for in a leader. Then Sharyl Attkisson encouraged people to question everything. Her background as an investigative journalist hit home as she explained AstroTurf marketing and how it works. Microsoft's Owen Roberts was the next to speak. His passion for unpredictability was evident as he introduced two proverbial doors and the choices people make when they go through them. Sharing her personal story with HPV, Northern Nevada Immunization Coalition's Heidi Parker educated the audience about the HPV virus and the vaccine that could save thousands. Rounding out the day, Michael Russer had the audience in stitches as he detailed his first attempt at being intimate after being rendered fully impotent as a result of cancer treatments. While his humor gained the audience's attention, his conviction and message held through the duration of his talk.  

"@SharylAttkisson giving the cold, hard, eye-opening facts at #TEDxUNR. SO good." - David J C.    

All TEDx UniversityofNevada talks will be uploaded to the TEDx YouTube site within one month's time. Follow TEDxUniversityofNevada on Facebook to be alerted when they become available.  

About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

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