USF jumps to the ‘Edge of the Future’
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 00:02
One hundred winners of a lottery for tickets will attend USF’s inaugural TEDx event titled “On the Edge of the Future” on Friday in the School of Music.
TEDTalks, first started in Silicon Valley in the 1980s, are based on the concept of “ideas worth spreading,” and have featured speakers ranging from Bono to Bill Clinton. In 2009, the organization began granting independent agencies the ability to create TEDx talks.
At USF, the collection of nine speakers includes USF faculty members, one Board of Trustees member (Jordan Zimmerman), graduate students and one alumna.
Raven Villegas, a recent graduate who double majored in international studies and political science, heard of the event through a co-worker who was on the TEDxUSF planning committee.
Having seen some TEDTalks online, Villegas said she was excited to see the event come to the USF community. She was later chosen as one of more than 60 people who applied to give a presentation at the event.
“TEDTalks are an important tool, regardless of age really, because of their simplicity,” Villegas, who was unable to be reached by phone due to illness, said in an email. “Being the only recent graduate to speak at the event is a great honor. I have been given the opportunity to have all eyes and ears on me for a brief period to listen to my big idea.”
Villegas said she plans to discuss integrating the international sphere with general education requirements at USF. She envisions a way for freshmen to have more opportunities to study abroad, in order to grasp broader horizons.
Former USF faculty member and engineering alumnus, Stephan Athan, will also take part in a TEDx event, though at the University of Florida campus on Saturday.
Athan’s discussion will be based on the wormhole concept in education and mentoring, which he began using during his days as a faculty member at USF.
“The concept of the wormhole is essentially creating a shortcut for students,” Athan said. “Basically teaching them to learn and visualize and embrace concepts and ideas that they would’ve figured out 10 years into their career, but we’re doing it now.”
Athan said he values mentoring and sees it as a tool to make significant changes in people’s lives.
“I get tremendous pleasure out of working with kids,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how old, they can be five or 55. But when you see their eyes light up when they get excited about something and they’re passionate and motivated and creative, there’s nothing better than that.”
Both Athan and Villegas said they see TED events as a catalyst for each viewer or audience member to better themselves.
“It’s like a tool, and you make whatever use you can of it,” Athan said.
The TEDxUSF event will be held from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the USF School of Music. Live streams and watch parties will be held in various locations around campus for students who were unable to grab a seat before the event sold out.
TEDxUSF coordinator Jennifer Espinola was unavailable for comment at the time of print.