Gearing up for student-organized TEDxUSF


For the first time since its inception four years ago, TEDxUSF, USF’s independent TED event, was organized by a board of students.

Usually the event is planned and organized by the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) at USF, but this year student councils were behind TEDxUSF. TEDxUSF board director and USF junior Mary Alao said this shift came as a result of what she feels was CLCE leadership responding to the desire of student volunteers for TEDxUSF wanting to be more involved.

“I think the office of CLCE kind of capitalized on seeing, wow, there’s a lot of interest and passion and students want to be even more hands-on involved than they already were,” Alao said.

The theme for this year’s event is “Limitless,” which was selected by students through Bullsync from a list of four themes put out by the student committee. Alao said this theme is about students going beyond the limitations set for them by others or by themselves.

“This theme was more about addressing that a lot of times we aren’t even aware that those restrictions are there but it’s very possible for us to live without boundaries and make the conscious effort to not restrain ourselves and not limit ourselves,” she said.

TEDx events are independent TED events that receive a license from TED to operate in its style and use its name. TED is a platform for sharing ideas and talks through online videos and conferences. TEDxUSF will be held in the same structure and style as a TED event.

“Basically, we’ll have a lineup of speakers, the same way they do, and we’ll also play some video from the TED website from their licensed videos and pretty much it’s an opportunity for a lot of people, students and faculty who watch TED on their own free time and have always been interested and passionate about it to be able to see their own version of TED on campus,” Alao said. “So it’s just a way of bringing TED to a smaller scale and also more local for us.”

The goal for TEDxUSF is to allow students to think and share ideas through the TED style platform.

“Really TED just has a lot of big ideas and a lot of ideas that are outside of the box and are just innovative in the sense that it’s not your everyday conversation or even things that you may think about every day,” Alao said.

The event is free and open to everyone. It will be held March 29 in the Marshall Student Center ballroom. Ticket applications opened at the beginning of the semester and closed March 1, but Alao said there will be a standby line for those wishing to get into the event March 29.

Alao said the committee looked for speakers with not just a passion but a clear call to action. The passion speakers had for their ideas needed to have an application for the lives of the listeners.

This year’s speakers, according to the TEDxUSF website, include professors, staff and undergraduate students. The student speakers are Yasmine Ezzair, an undergraduate student majoring in chemistry, and Emily Pickett, a junior majoring in communications. Faculty members Salvatore Morgera, a professor in engineering at USF; Bernd Reiter, a professor of comparative politics at USF; and Marleah Dean Kruzel, assistant professor in health communication at USF. Also speaking is Nick Joyce, a licensed psychologist at the USF Counseling Center.

 “Our biggest hope is that it’ll just impact people and excite them to really go forth and do things they thought they never could,” she said.