TEDx returns to APU for the second time

From speakers of diverse disciplines to livestream viewing parties and swag bags, the biannual TEDx event aired for the second time since its debut at APU in 2015. The first TEDx event heralded the most viewed livestream in university history, and it returned for an encore performance last Tuesday.

This independently organized TEDx event was fully funded by the Center for Research on Ethics and Values (CREV) directed by Mark Eaton, Ph.D. who worked in conjunction with Don Isaak, Ph.D. to receive licensing for the TEDxAzusaPacificUniversity event this semester.

Under the theme of innovation, APU faculty shared breakthroughs in neuroscience, mindfulness practices, the power of growth mindsets, cultural resiliency in the oldest city of Mexico, the value of low-point conversations, foster care advocacy and standing in the middle in the midst of our tense national climate.

The event was hosted by Journalism Professor Kent Walls who paced the afternoon with a light hearted audience participation game called “Is It A Title of a TED Talk or A Tweet From A High Schooler?”

“There were so many aspects of hosting that were exciting,” Walls said. “It is tough to pinpoint just one. That said, it was a blessing to get to know all the incredibly talented speakers at the rehearsal the day prior and backstage the day of the event. It was such a sharp, yet approachable/humble group of leaders.”

Social Work Professor Regina Chow Trammel, Ph.D. began the event with her talk titled “Stressing Less: Using Mindfulness to Deal with Everyday Pressures” emphasizing the importance to “breathe and be mindful.” Then, Keith Hall, Ph.D., executive director of APU’s Academic Success Center, gave a speech on the value of fostering a growth mindset culture that believes in the capability of others and inspires optimism. After, History and Political Science Professor Vero(a)nica A. Gutie(a)rrez, Ph.D. spoke about Cholula, the oldest standing city in the Americas, and its bearance of cultural resilience despite colonial takeovers.

“I chose my TEDx topic by thinking about what I had to say that would interest non-specialists, and potentially, a global audience…In 2007, I received a Fulbright to live in Cholula for a year to conduct research,” Gutierrez said. “It was a fantastic experience and I am still in contact with several good friends in Mexico I met that year.”

Though faced with an emotional and physical challenge, Gutierrez was proud to speak at TEDx this year.

“I was happy to be pregnant on the TED stage because too often motherhood remains in the shadows of professional women’s lives even though it’s a very important part of who we are and affects our work in a myriad of ways,” Gutierrez said.

After a short intermission, Communication Studies Professor Ryan Montague, Ph.D. spoke on “You Never Asked: The Game Changing Conversation You Never Had” based off of a transformative assignment where Montague’s students exchanged impactful conversations with their friends about low points in their lives for the first time.

“I believe people are going to be missing more and more opportunities today than they ever have in the past,” Montague said. “The more we take the keyboard path of least resistance the harder it becomes to take the face-to-face path with resistance. Nowadays people aren’t building up the social callus to handle more challenging conversations and instead of engaging people they simply walk away.”

Afterwards, Biology and Chemistry Professor Skyla Herod, Ph.D. spoke about the moral imperative for building resilient brains, evaluating the neuroscience behind neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to recover from childhood trauma.

To close out the event, Robert Duke, Dean of the Haggard School of Theology, and Criminal Justice Professor Deshonna Coller-Goubil spoke about the community’s responsibility for ensuring the path for foster care children to higher education and the problem solving innovation that’s found when viewing criminal justice from a balanced and empathetic perspective, respectively.

To raise the bar for the returning event, a team of volunteer students added a livestream viewing party in the Cougar Dome for community members with giveaways and gift bags. APU student artists also live painted during the TEDx event.

Sophomore art major Violet Del Cid was inspired to live paint while hearing Dean Duke’s speech concerning foster care.

“The painting I created reflects this, showing a blank figure in the center wearing a graduation cap and gown, surrounded by multiple figures, all gathered into a uniting membrane,” Del Cid said. “The face is intentionally left blank, which symbolizes a call for this graduating position to be filled. I wanted to communicate this due to the unfortunately low statistics of foster children that graduate college. I painted this in hopes of showing that when a child doesn’t have the privilege of having their biological parents or adequate support, the community should step up. We all can influence the lives of these foster children whether we are peers, teachers, counselors, or role models.”

Junior biblical studies and humanities major Logan Cain also showed support of Dean Duke’s speech, giving a standing ovation at its end.

“I am planning on going into Child Advocacy Law for my career because the foster care issue is a social issue that has spoken to me pretty strongly, and I was just really encouraged to see someone with prominence and a good reputation stand in front of future leaders who are going to make a difference in the world and have people really listen to the concerns about foster kids not being able to get the education they deserve as they grow older,” Cain said.

As the second TEDx event at APU concluded, the student volunteer team desires that the community step away with a newfound appreciation for the professors and speakers that APU has to offer as well as excitement at the potential and capability of APU as an innovative university.

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