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Innaugural TEDxUSF event brings eclectic speakers

A handful of speakers took the stage on Friday night, speaking on topics ranging from sustainability to the power of music.

The inaugural TEDxUSF event took place in the School of Musics Barness Recital Hall.

Students had to apply for tickets for a seat in either the main room where they could watch the speakers live, or in the live stream room just down the hall. As an added bonus, students who attended had the chance to meet the speakers during the events intermission.

The first of the nine speakers of the evening was Jordan Zimmerman, the Founder and Chairman of Zimmerman Advertising, a USF alumnus and a member of USFs Board of Trustees.

I am insane, Zimmerman said.

He spoke of the importance of hard work and perseverance by encouraging students to embrace fear, and never ever quit.

Zimmerman told his success story starting from when he was just a kid who would wake up at 2 a.m. to complete his paper route before he hired some of his friends to help out.

Do we want to lead a normal life or do we want to lead a life that can be extremely successful? said Zimmerman. “Vision is not about seeing what is, vision is about seeing what could be. You must believe in yourself if you’re ever going to get anyone to believe in you You sleep when you die.”

Mary Newport, a USF professor, shared the story of her husbands diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimers disease and how instead of waiting for treatment to become available she found her own way to help her husband using coconut oil.

Newport shared her excitement at her husbands remarkable progress and her disappointment with not being able to spread the word about her discovery with others suffering with the disease.

Patrizia LaTrecchia closed the first half of TEDxUSF with an eye opening talk about food waste in the United States. She told the audience that 40 percent of the food in the U.S. is wasted.

“I come from a place where food is not something that you throw away, LaTrecchia said.

LaTrecchia stressed the importance of using fresh ingredients, eating healthy, respecting food and not wasting what you have.

Food is life. It is the center of everything we do, she said. If we do not know what we eat, how can we know who we are?

The second half of TEDxUSF opened with as much excitement as the first with Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy, Dean of the Patel College of Global Sustainability, who refers to himself as a water professional.

“We need to rethink our relationship with water, he said.

If we’re going to become more sustainable, we have to think holistically about water, Vairavamoorthy said. “With water resources diminishing and the demand for water increasing, we cannot continue business as usual.”

He told the audience to think of water like a library book, that it is borrowed and must be returned in good condition.

William Wiedrich, the director of orchestral studies at USF, concluded the event, speaking about the power and importance of live musical performances and how music programs should be cheerful and unabashedly supported.

Music is the universal language, Weidrich said. Through it, all emotion is understood, cherished and appreciated.

Wiedrich told the story of a young boy who attended one of his orchestras Christmas performances for the homeless. He spoke about the wonder in the boys eyes as he heard a cello play for the first time. The boys mother later thanked Wiedrich for giving her son his first Christmas present.

Wiedrich later told the audience that the boy now plays the cello in his schools orchestra and is well on his musical journey.

As long as the human spirit is alive, live music will be too, Wiedrich said.

Wiedrich closed TEDxUSF by inviting his graduate orchestral assistant Oliver Weston onstage to play Bachs Suite for Solo Cello No. 1.

I think it showed the talent, the brilliance of this community and I think we need to have more and more opportunities for people to share these incredible insights and the knowledge that they have in this really accessible way, coordinator Jennifer Espinola said. Im just excited by the potential and the future, I know that there is a permanent home for TedxUSF on this campus and I know that we have a great community that wants to make it happen so Im just beyond thrilled.

Students can access the footage of the event online at