TEDxUniversityofMississippi featured 13 speakers tackling problems within the state and the world. The event’s theme was “Continuum: Ideas Worth Spreading,” and ranged in topics from medicine to ageism in the workplace.
Ellen Kellum, faculty advisor for TEDx and assistant professor of journalism, said that throughout the rehearsal process, she saw a connection of community in each of the talks.
“There’s a sort of a throughline which kind of surprised me because they sound like such diverse topics, and yet the throughline seems to be compassion and empathy and kindness and pulling together as a community,” Kellum said. “It’s remarkable.”
The event planning spanned over eight months and included 12 students and three faculty advisors, including Kellum.
“So (the planning committee) … really wanted to get the community involved — not just the university, but community in all forms to come together,” Kellum said.
Dr. Warrick Bishop, a cardiologist, flew in from Australia to speak about his work in preventing heart disease.
“(He spoke) about cardiology … prevention as opposed to treating something after it’s already a problem,” Kellum said. “His approach is very common sense, and yet it is not the standard because … the medical industry and pharmaceuticals and things … make more money if they let people get sick, and then treat them afterwards as opposed to permanently doing preventative measures to keep people from getting to the point where they need that sort of thing.”
While other speakers at TEDx could apply to participate, Ocean Springs High School senior Areesha Razi won the opportunity through her school.
Razi said she is a part of a TEDx club and gave a presentation for her AP Capstone research project that earned her a spot on the TEDxUniversityofMississippi lineup.
“It’s been very interesting,” Razi said. “(I’ve been) working on this for a year now. I didn’t think it would come and go so quickly, but it was one of the best experiences of my life, if not the best. I’m very honored.”
The first speaker, Ruth Sherman, discussed ageism in her talk titled “I’m Not Done Yet,” where she depicted all of the ways that older people are beneficial to work spaces. Sherman works with global CEO’s and has worked with companies such as Coca-Cola Co. and McDonald’s Corp.
She said that the common myth of aging being linked with cognitive decline is only true with less than 10% of the population.
“We older people are not doing ourselves any favors by proclaiming senior moments every time we forget something because, by doing that, we are perpetuating the stereotype that our brain function automatically and inevitably declines as we get older,” Sherman said.
Though the topics all carried a sense of community, they differed in subject and experiences.
Ole Miss doctoral student Donald Guillory spoke about the importance of sharing narratives within the idea of the American identity. Guillery spoke about how his manuscript being shared among family members led to the further sharing of past stories.
Before the event started, Guillery said he was drawn to the event after hearing about the theme of continuum.
“I wrote a book a few years ago about personal narratives, and, when the announcement was made about the TED talks and the theme of continuity or continuum and continuity, I figured … narratives are of that continuity,” Guillery said. “If we have storytelling, we have personal stories, biographies, autobiographies and we have historical records of certain periods. You need to understand the context as well as the content.”
The event also featured music from The Mississippian Jazz Ensemble and The Choirs of Lafayette and Oxford High School Chamber Choir.