Voices of the Future Raised at TEDx Claremont Colleges

Kevin Kantor delivers a spoken word performance on the value of poetry at the TEDxCC 2016 event, held in Garrison Theater last Saturday, Feb. 20. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)

Anyone who entered the auditorium at Scripps College’s Garrison Theater on Saturday, Feb. 20., would have noticed the large blocks positioned on stage. With the letters T-E-D-X marked out on their sides in bold red paint, they reflected the building blocks of innovation stacked up by the speakers who commanded the stage that day.

Last weekend, Garrison Theater became a venue for vision and progress for this year’s TEDx Claremont Colleges (TEDxCC) forum. The theme of the event was the phrase ‘Focused on Our Future.’ Numerous guest speakers attended the event and gave talks on a variety of subjects linked to this central idea. Two student speakers, Roxanna Soltanzadeh, who attends Claremont Graduate University, and Simon Posada Fishman PO ’19, were selected through a competition last semester to speak as well.

TEDx forums are organized by groups that are not affiliated with the organization but that still align with the TED mission statement to project “ideas worth spreading,” according to the official Facebook page of TEDx Claremont Colleges.

The guest speakers at TEDxCC 2016 were Kevin Kantor, Wendy Davis, Martin Monti, Professor Melina Abdullah, Dr. Tim Amukele, and Jess Peláez. Their talks ranged in subject matter from Kantor’s discussion of poetry and reading of his spoken word poems to Peláez’s talk on the significance and inventive potentials of science and Amukele’s discussion of drone use for medical purposes.

The speakers proved to be inspirational both on and off stage.

“The atmosphere back stage was pretty cool, and tense at times,” Fishman wrote in an email to TSL. “Before their talks, the speakers would always be rehearsing, polishing all the details. But there were some times when everyone seemed to calm down and we would have some pretty interesting conversations. It was really cool to get the chance to ask them questions about their talks and also to get to know them on a more personal level, some of them even added me on Facebook.”

One of the highlights of TEDxCC seemed to be the combination of perspectives showcased. From students to inspiring professionals, TEDxCC 2016 broke barriers in terms of inclusivity.

“I think it’s great that we had the student speaker competition,” Haetzel said. “This is kind of in contrast to bringing in high personalities; there’s also a lot of diversity we have available at the Claremont Colleges, and to have students like Simon and Roxanna be able to present what they’re passionate about shows us that they can be put on the same level as high-key personalities.”

Student volunteers, organized into various planning committees, were responsible for the planning, organization, and execution of the event: Laura Haetzel PO ’19, alongside Hannah Skutt SC ‘18, was a volunteer coordinator, Carly Grimes PO ’18 was the event curator, and the marketing team was headed by Shailee Samar HMC ’18.

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