Bryant University was built on the belief that great ideas can change lives – and that a broad range of perspectives can spark important new insights. This year's TEDxBryantU conference focused on breaking the barriers that prevent us from achieving greatness and inspiring the campus community to take what they've learned and put it into action.
At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. A student-run initiative, TEDxBryantU is independently organized and licensed by the TED media platform. The Bryant tradition began when Samantha Scoca ’18, inspired by the University's culture of innovation, applied for a TEDx license in 2018 and brought the conference to campus.
This year Lead Director Kyle McPherson '22 and a dedicated team of students brought the event to a combined virtual and in-person audience of more than 300. "Both here and around the world, the energy behind the TED community is unmatched and has helped myself and others gain new perspectives on a broad range of topics," noted McPherson in his opening address. "The goal for a TEDx event is to inspire, educate, and challenge the audience to break through their barriers and step outside their comfort zone to develop their own better future."
“It's always been my dream to help change the world, even in a small way, and I feel like this is an opportunity for me to help do that,”
This year's conference featured 7 speakers chosen from Bryant students, faculty, alumni, staff, and friends. “At TED and TEDx, it’s all about great ideas," noted Sales and Marketing Professor and RNMKRS Co-Founder Stefanie Boyer, Ph.D., one of this year's chosen speakers. "Here at Bryant, we are a leader in innovation and education and we have so many innovators that it makes sense that we would participate and share some of our great ideas with the world.”
Sharing what you've learned
For Bryant’s student speakers, TEDxBryantU was an opportunity to use what they’d learned to start important conversations. “When I was a first-year student, I was in the audience for the first TEDxBryantU. Listening to their speeches, I felt really inspired that one day I could do the same thing and maybe my words could inspire someone else,” remembered Melissa Hernandez ’21, who spoke about finding your own path in her talk Do it For You, Not Your Resume. “I hope that every single person in the audience found something in one of the day's that they can apply to some sort of the challenges in their own life.”
"This was a perfect opportunity as a Bryant senior to use my platform to empower other women as my time at Bryant has empowered me.”
“It's always been my dream to help change the world, even in a small way, and I feel like this is an opportunity for me to help do that,” said Ramon Fille ’22, who shared his experiences coming to American from the Philippines and acclimating to American cultures in his talk, The Hidden Life of Being an Immigrant. Fille believes that an event like TEDxBryantU is an ideal venue for people to share their perspectives and get to know each other better. “Bryant is such a beautiful community, and this gives us a chance to highlight that," he notes. "We all have different stories and different experiences and backgrounds we can use to help one another.”
Olivia Valenti ’21, who delivered the talk SySTEMic Misogyny: Why Women Do Not Win Nobel Prizes at the Same Rate as Men and offered insight into the gender disparity in scientific fields, saw the day as a chance to give back. “This was a perfect opportunity as a Bryant senior to use my platform to empower other women as my time at Bryant has empowered me,” she says. “We pride ourselves on our community here. We all support, mentor, and learn from one another. Everyone in the community contributes to one another’s success.”
Changing your life
Professor Boyer's involvement in TEDxBryantU was rooted in her belief in the power of sharing knowledge, which she does by teaching students and providing sales training to organizations to help them improve process, performance, and success. Through analyzing more than 46,000 sales conversations, she has gained new insights into how these conversations can improve relationships as well as lives.
In her talk, Learning How to Get What You Want, Boyer advised listeners to align their values, experience, and talent to achieve breakthrough results with a “UDEA” – Understanding the problem that needs solving; Digging deep to learn what’s at stake and why a solution is needed; using Evidence such as data and stories to show how you can be the solution; and to seek Agreement about how to move forward.
Liv Sain, motivational mental health speaker and bestselling author, presented Liv to Pop: How to Get to Your Chewy Center, during which she discussed her own struggles with physical and mental health challenges, and – using the Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop™ as a metaphor – how to expose the soft, chewy center at the heart of the life changes you want to make.
"It's not until you get a taste of the sweetnees that you build up the courage to work your way to the chewy center - and the chewy center is the best part," Sain told the audience. "I want you to look at the chewy center as the solution to your problems... and the solution to your problems is worth the wait."
The recorded TEDxBryantU talks will be made available by the organization in the future at https://www.ted.com/talks