This year’s TEDxGeorgetown speakers include six students and three external speakers, including Vice President of CNN U.S. and CNN Worldwide General Manager Andrew Morse.
In its sixth iteration, the event, which takes place Oct. 22, will focus on a theme of “The Tipping Point,” highlighting different moments in speakers’ lives that have led to change.
The TED organization runs various conferences and speeches around the world on a broad range of academic and cultural topics. While TEDxGeorgetown uses the original TED Talks format, Georgetown students organize every aspect of the conference. Chosen last spring by the TEDxGeorgetown board, the theme was inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point”, according to TEDxGeorgetown Co-Chair Natalia Peña (COL ’17)
“It is defined as the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point,” Peña wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The six student speakers, Agnes Lee (SFS ’17), Amina Gerrbi (MSB ’17), Anthony Anderson (COL ’18), Jeong Whan Park (SFS ’17), Febin Bellamy (MSB ’17) and Summer Durant (COL ’18), were selected by members of the TEDxGeorgetown board.
The conference will also feature Jonah Reider, a student at Columbia University who converted his dorm room into a restaurant, and Mary Beth Bruggemen, executive director of the Southeast Region for The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that helps connect veterans with service opportunities in the states.
Peña said the organization attempts to select as diverse a group of speakers as possible.
“We try to get a dynamic group of speakers that put across our theme in the best way possible,” Peña wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We try to look for people who don’t only have great inspiring stories, but who also have the capacity to engage the audience as much as possible whether that be through inspiring people with their stories or simply captivating them with their enthusiasm and personality.”
Each student speaker comes to the event with a unique background and moment to discuss. Speakers were chosen not only because of their individual stories but also based on how they would work in combination with their peer speakers, according to TEDxGeorgetown Co-Chair D.J. Angelini (MSB ’17).
“Our goal was not to judge or evaluate someone’s experience; our goal was simply to pick the best combination of student speakers to hit on the various aspects of our theme,” Angelini wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Gerrbi and the other student speakers were selected for their unique moments that relate to the theme of “The Tipping Point.”
Gerrbi said she will be speaking about the impact of the Arab Spring on her journey to Georgetown.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but I will discuss my time living through the Arab Spring and how I miraculously ended up at Georgetown despite it being virtually impossible,” Gerrbbi wrote. “The goal is to help people understand that we are all capable of shaping our own realities if we want to.”
Anderson, who recently found out he is HIV-positive, will discuss how the disease disproportionately affects black gay males, while Lee will speak about her experience living in the country without authorization.
Durant will deliver a spoken-word poem about her experience reconciling being half Indian and half black; Park, a veteran, will speak about his struggles with mental health.
Bellamy will speak about his work founding Unsung Heroes, which seeks to give back to under-recognized workers at Georgetown.
Gerrbi said she wants to convince attendees to set goals beyond societal limits.
“I constantly see people making decisions based on their limiting beliefs and what society decides is ‘realistic’ or ‘unrealistic’ for them,” Gerrbi said. “I have a story that really challenges society’s norms, and I want people to get the chance to hear it so that they can walk away inspired and motivated to take on any challenge they face in the future.”
Morse, who produced CNN’s presidential debate, monitors CNN newsgathering operations as well as the Washington Bureau and D.C.-based programming, will be speaking about the unprecedented nature of the upcoming presidential election.
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