Students Share Stories of Risk-Taking at TEDx

10.23 TEDxGeorgetown will host its fifth TEDx conference tomorrow in Gaston Hall. With the theme of “Risk Takers,” the daylong event will be divided into three different sections, with the subthemes “Inspiring the Uninspired,” “Fail Forward” and “High Risk, High Reward.” Each section will feature four speakers highlighting different stages or factors in the risk-taking process. After each session, participants will also have the opportunity to interact with speakers and reflect on the topics discussed in breakout sessions, a new addition to this year’s programming.

TEDx, which is a national program of nonprofit, self-organized local events, is a subset of the TED global conference series. In previous years, dozens of TEDx events have been hosted in the Washington, D.C. area.

The program features a diverse range of students, faculty and contributors from outside of the university, including partnerships with restaurants and food vendors at TasTED and a food market in Healy Circle on Saturday. Tickets for TEDx, which are free for Georgetown students and $20 for nonstudents, are available for reservation online.


Caroline James (COL ’16)

James, a senior in the College studying government, environmental studies and music, will discuss her experience participating in a political protest and her subsequent arrest.
“It is about the way that civil disobedience and aspects of risk-taking are a way to participate in the democratic process,” James said. “I want people to come away with the sense of what their various passions mean to them.”

James has led environmental efforts on campus through her role as secretary of sustainability for the Georgetown University Student Association, as well as her role in GU Fossil Free. She directs the Georgetown Environmental Leaders initiative, a coalition of student groups, academic departments and university offices that work toward sustainability goals.
James partook in a study abroad program in 2014 to Denmark, Sweden and Germany, where she studied corporate social responsibility and renewable energy systems.

Outside of Georgetown, James has worked for several sustainability organizations, including Environment Georgia, the American Council on Renewable Energy and Sustainable Business International. With SBI, she authored a chapter of an upcoming book about the sustainable wine industry. James intends to enter environmental policy or environmental consulting upon her graduation.

Darius Baxter (COL ’16)

Baxter is a senior in the College studying women’s and gender studies with a concentration in globalization and poverty.

Baxter’s speech will focus on various anecdotes from his personal experience.
“I plan to inspire the crowd by sharing little bits of my life story and weaving those stories together in order to hopefully bring people a little bit of happiness,” Baxter said.
Baxter has had an eclectic Georgetown experience, from congressional internships to partnering with an all-natural Colombian coffee startup called Sunniva Caffe.
This summer, Baxter worked with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) to successfully draft and introduce legislation designating June as National Gun Violence Awareness Month.

He has also worked in a variety of D.C. youth programs, including the After School Kids Program, the Sursum Corda Tutoring Program, Childfund International and the Special Olympic World Games in Los Angeles, Calif.

He is currently working in the D.C. campaign office of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and plans to work full-time with the campaign following his graduation before transitioning to Teach for America next year.

Margot Keale (NHS ’16)

Keale is a senior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies studying health care management and policy with minors in government and art history.

On campus, Keale serves as a co-chair of NHS Academic Council and vice-president of the Georgetown University Academic Health Chapter. She is also an NHS peer advisor.
Her talk will address the personal risk she took in coming to Georgetown two years after an autoimmune disease left her paralyzed from the chest down.

“I’ve come to realize that when we don’t admit the risks we take we can’t fully celebrate the moment when we overcome them,” Keale wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I’ll be sharing my story in hopes that others feel empowered to reflect upon challenges they face and then celebrate the fact that they’re working through them.”

Keale said that she has been hesitant to share her story and detail the struggles she faced when she left her support system at home to begin life on the Hilltop.

“Even still today, saying this leaves me feeling vulnerable, and I don’t want anyone to know that I at times I have struggled,” Keale wrote.

Elijah Jatovsky (SFS ’16) & Patrick Lim (SFS ’16)

Jatovsky and Lim, both international politics majors in the School of Foreign Service, will give a joint talk about the Syrian refugee crisis through the perspective of their friend, Sami, who won a scholarship opportunity to study in Canada after living in the Zaatari refugee camp for three years.

“We met Sami last year when studying abroad in Jordan,” Jatovsky wrote in an email to The Hoya. “In giving this talk, we hope to raise awareness of an issue that becomes all the more pressing by the day.”

Jatovsky, who speaks Hebrew and Arabic, has lived in both Israel and Jordan. His regional focus is on the Middle East, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He co-founded J Street U Georgetown, an advocacy group, and collaborated with Lim to help start the Foundation for the Advancement of Refugee Education. He is a peer advisor in the Office of Global Education and a Bunker fellow in Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

On campus, Lim is involved with the Brilliantly British Club and writes for the U.S. Middle East Youth Network. He has also served on the Diplomatic Ball committee.

Scott Dennis (COL ’16)

Dennis is a senior in the College studying government and philosophy.
In his TEDx talk, he will address the work that the university has done on the issue of mental health.

“I wanted to express to people that taking a risk and opening up about their mental health is a vital part to the recovery process for the entire Georgetown community,” Dennis wrote in an email to The Hoya.

“Being an active participant in these conversations is about more than sharing a story, it’s also about others hearing that story,” Dennis wrote.

On campus, he is most involved with Active Minds, a group that strives to promote positive conversations surrounding topics of mental health and mental wellness.

He is also involved with the Students of Georgetown, Inc.’s Philanthropy Committee, which redistributes the profits of The Corp back into the student body in the form of grants and scholarships. Outside of Georgetown, he is an AmeriCorps member, a position through which he participated in a variety of governmental projects.

After graduation, he hopes to go on to a career in public service and further pursue his current interests on campus.

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