With theme ‘What’s Next’, TEDx will give students a chance to share their stories and passions

TEDx UMiami will return to in-person talks on Thursday with the theme “What’s Next?”
TEDx UMiami will return to in-person talks on Thursday with the theme “What’s Next?”

On Thursday, April 14, TEDx UMiami will hold their first fu in-person event since 2019. The event will last from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It will be split into four groups with two or three speakers in each group. Tickets are free and can be reserved through the organization’s EventBrite page.

The talks featured in each yearly TEDx event all fall under a specific theme. 2022’s event has the theme of “What’s Next,” which is meant to invoke the shift in the way we are talking about the pandemic.

“Even though COVID still exists we’re sort of seeing a shift globally into people talking about how the vaccine’s out, so we’re moving back to normal,” said Joe Broehl, TEDx UMiami co-director and senior majoring in political science.

Each group of speeches can be viewed live or virtually. There will be 11 featured speakers in total and they will be discussing a broad variety of topics that fit in with the “What’s Next” theme.

Dija Thomas, a senior studying public relations, plans to give a speech centered around her experiences growing up in South Florida and dealing with hurricanes.

“My talk would be about, I guess, in one word, resilience. And, how I use my roots as a Florida native born and raised in Miami,” to prepare for and recover from hurricanes, specifically Hurricane Irma, Thomas said.

To Thomas, this event represents the realization of a years-long dream of giving a TED talk to her community.

Another UM student who will be featured at the event is Gayathri Samuel, a business student who started the nonprofit Hygiene for Women in 2018 with the goal of providing menstrual products to people struggling with poverty. Samuel explains that her talk will promote destigmatizing menstruation in conversations about physical health.

“The least that we can do- males, females, whoever -is not create that sense of awkwardness around the topic itself,” Samuel said.

UM senior and ECO Agency member Jordan Hightower will also give a talk intended to change the tone of the conversation around climate change.

“We hear about it all the time and usually it’s so super morbid-sounding,” Hightower said.

However, he hopes to use the platform given to him by TEDx to shift the conversation towards resiliency and forward thinking on both an infrastructural and individual level.

“Climate change is here. It’s not something we can hide from anymore,” Hightower said. “But it’s about recognizing that problem and saying, ‘Okay, how do we solve this?”

In addition to students, many UM graduates will be featured. Sierra Domb, a writer and activist who has a communications degree from UM, will give a speech detailing her experience of trying to gain recognition for a rare vision disorder. Domb is the founder of the Visual Snow Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to researching the relatively unknown Visual Snow Syndrome.

“By the end of my talk, my hope is that the audience feels empowered and comes to an important realization: regardless of traditional qualifications (or lack thereof), you can be your own hero and help others along the way,” Domb said in an email.

Attorney, activist and writer Haley Moss is another UM graduate who will speak at the event. Moss gained widespread recognition and praise in 2019 when she became Florida’s first autistic attorney. She has used her public image to advocate for the equitable treatment of neurodivergent individuals.

Moss explains that she plans to use her speaking opportunity to promote a better understanding of how neurodivergent people interact with their peers. She aims to provoke the questioning of widely held social norms.

“I don’t want to tell my particular disability story, so much as use pieces of it as a lens to rethink greater concepts,” Moss said.

Other featured speakers include UM architecture student and single parent Emi Kopke, grief advocate and counselor Tanya Villanueva Tepper, business coach Natalie Robinson Bruner, Herbert Business School lecturer and executive coach Marisol Capellan, entrepreneur and disability advocate Angelina Rosario and social worker and mental health advocate Gabrielle Ferrara. Tickets can be reserved up until the morning of the event.