Diverse speakers promote ‘ideas worth spreading’

UM alumnus Kemy Joseph, founder of U R Awesome, interacts with the crowd at Storer Auditorium during the TedxUMiami event this past Friday. Danielle Ungermann // Contributing Photographer

TEDxUMiami speakers shared their professional experiences and ideas with University of Miami students this past Friday, while also encouraging students to pursue ideas of their own.

TED is a nonprofit organization that hosts speakers of diverse professional and cultural backgrounds in order to promote “ideas worth spreading” in the technological, entertainment and design fields. TEDx is a local and independently organized TED program, and TEDxUMiami events are held on UM’s campus.

According to an article in The Washington Post, TED’s two main international gatherings cost thousands of dollars to attend. However, the thousands of individual TEDx forums have gone viral.

Friday’s event at Storer Auditorium was co-sponsored by Young and College Democrats, Delta Sigma Pi, Chinese Student Scholars and Hurricane Productions. Sophomore Jianan Shi headed UM’s executive board after she participated in TEDxBeijing this past spring.

“What I liked wasn’t the speakers sharing their ideas, but the audience spreading the ideas they’d been exposed to,” Shi said.

Over the summer, Shi teamed up with sophomore Allison Buitron to organize the event. Both felt the UM community could benefit from exposure to the diverse professionals at the event.

Speakers included Oscar DiVeroli, a successful entrepreneur; Rik Myers, director of undergraduate research in biochemistry and molecular biology at UM; Michelle Fields, an American journalist who covers politics; Ricardo Bueso, a Guatemalan businessman and politician; and Kemy Joseph, founder of U R Awesome, an organization that promotes kindness in everyday life.

The guests each presented an 18-minute speech to empower and equip students with the tools to make a change in society and in their own thought processes.

DiVeroli shared the story of his hurricane shutter company and stressed that business is not about just about money and success.

“People don’t invest in ideas,” he said. “They invest in people.”

Myers explained that trial and error is critical with new ideas, and Fields told the audience that their responsibility as citizen journalists is to decide what subjects become news.

Bueso articulated the importance of planning, managing and executing ideas.

“Your future is in your hands,” he said. “As soon as you possibly can, find the purpose of your life.”

Joseph rounded out the event by encouraging students to be kind and thoughtful of others while always paying forward their experiences and opportunities.

Junior Kappes Chatfield, a motion pictures major, attended the event specifically to see Joseph, who inspired him to start his own company.

“I knew what he was about, so it was a sermon,” he said. “It rejuvenated me.”

Shi and Buitron are now in the process of establishing a permanent TEDxUMiami organization on campus. They plan to host monthly viewings of TEDTalks, the online speaker videos, and expand future TEDx events.

Students can watch TEDTalks, find other TEDx events and learn more about the organization at

November 4, 2012


Jordan Coyne

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