Bryant University’s fifth annual TEDxBryantU conference brought students, faculty, alumni and friends of the University together to imagine a better tomorrow. A day devoted to innovation and inspiration, TEDxBryantU featured eight talented and insightful speakers from Bryant and the larger community eager to start new conversations.
Licensed by the TED media platform, TEDxBryantU is an independently-organized, student-run initiative that showcases new ideas about how we can improve and better serve the world. “The goal of any TEDx event is to inspire, educate and challenge the audience to step outside their comfort zone and develop their own path for a better future,” noted Taryn Walsh ’23, a member of the TEDxBryantU Executive Board in her opening remarks. “Our hope is that you walk away from this event feeling energized and apply the lessons you learn today in your own lives.”
This year’s theme for the conference was “The Seeds of Innovation,” and it offered insights into groundbreaking ideas, techniques and technologies that can help make a difference in people’s personal and professional lives. “If you follow the seeds of innovation planted by our incredible lineup of speakers today, I know you will be inspired to try something new, to create something, or to make a meaningful change in your life,” Master of Ceremonies Allison Butler, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Director of Bryant’s IDEA (Innovation and Design Experience for All) Program told the audience.
Inspiring the future
TEDxBryantU has become an important tradition ever since Bryant student Samantha Scoca ’18, inspired by the University’s culture of innovation, applied for a TEDx license and brought the conference to campus in 2018. “I attended this event as a freshman and saw one of the women in my sorority, Amy Solov, give her TEDx talk,” remembers Nicole Craig ’23. “I looked at her on stage and saw how confident she was and said, ‘I want to be able to do that when I'm a senior.’"
Now, three years later, it was Craig, an International Business major concentrating in Global Supply Chain Management and Spanish, who aimed to inspire others with “Finding your First,” a talk that encouraged the audience to break boundaries and take risks that will lead to amazing new experiences. “I hope that through today’s event, the audience realizes they have the power to create their own future in a world of endless opportunity,” she notes.
By giving students a platform to reach others, TEDxBryantU allows new voices to be heard, she suggested. “An event like TEDxBryantU helps create the sense of community that Bryant always emphasizes,” says Craig. “Everyone here has come together as equals to share their ideas.”
“Bryant has such a good network of incredible people and today’s event just reminded me how strong it really is and how I can always come back and meet with new people.”
Team and Project Management student Alexandra Meise ’22 used her talk, "The Monster of Management" to explore hidden lessons in management, building strong teams and empathy derived from Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein. “You put so much of yourself out there by doing something like this,” says Miese, who notes that Frankenstein is one of her favorite works of literature. “It’s challenging and can be a little intimidating being up there by yourself but you’re able to share something that’s very important to you. It really helps you build confidence.”
In her talk, “Starting up Small,” Marketing and Leadership and Innovation double major Emily Grossman ’23, founder of the online customized retail and fashion company BryantCustomz, presented the lessons she’s learned on her way to running a successful LLC while still a student. “Being an innovator in a community that really values innovation, I’m excited to share my experience and to be able to give back to Bryant like this,” says Grossman. “This experience has definitely challenged me, and I consider it a real milestone in my life.”
Connecting with others
For the conference’s alumni speakers, TEDxBryantU was a chance to pass on what they had learned since passing under the Bryant Archway at Commencement. Dustin Cabral ’09, now a data analytics consultant at Cleartelligence, discussed the history and craft of a vital tool in his profession in his talk “The Evolution of Data Visualization” and offered examples of how everyone can use it in their daily lives. “Giving a TED talk was something I’ve always wanted to do and, since I’m a Bryant alumni, TEDxBryantU was a natural fit,” he notes. “It feels really good to come back and be part of a something like this.”
“Innovation comes from people from all different walks of life and different backgrounds coming together to discuss things. It makes all of us better when we can create an amalgamation of multiple ideas and challenge each other to come up with the very best ones.”
Taking charge of your life through discipline, careful planning and solid money management was the theme of “Money as a tool for creating the life of your dreams,” presented by Brooke Tomasetti, a member of Bryant’s Class of 2015. Head personal finance consultant and CEO of Money Life Mentor as well as the Director of Financial Education and Community at Carbon Collective, Tomasetti relished the chance to connect, and reconnect, with her fellow Bryant Bulldogs. “Bryant has such a good network of incredible people and today’s event just reminded me how strong it really is and how I can always come back and meet with new people,” she says.
Several friends of the Bryant community also shared their wisdom. Adam Alpert, co-founder of Pangea.app, a startup that connects companies with students from more than 1,500 different schools for remote work, discussed how the ancient philosophy of stoicism can help people through difficult moments, using examples from his own life and entrepreneurial journey, in his talk, “The Stoic Entrepreneur.” Creator, communicator, coach and sales team leader Daniel Vaquerano, co-founder of the EPIC ME Growth coaching development platform offered strategies attendees could use to take charge of their destinies in his talk, titled “Innovative You.”
Lecturer of Management Chris Ratcliffe’s TEDxBryantU talk, “Design Behind Bars,” discussed the insights gained through an initiative he leads that teaches entrepreneurship, innovation, and collaboration skills to inmates at the RI Department of Corrections. He praised TEDxBryantU’s student organizers and noted the hard work that had gone into preparing and running the event. “There’s a pride of authorship to organizing something impressive like TEDx,” he noted. It was also a great opportunity for the team to build vital, real-world-ready skills. “You learn by doing, and someone who’s accomplished something like this knows they can do it again,” says Ratcliffe.
“Bryant’s mission is all about combining ideas and disciplines, which is a perfect fit for an event like TEDxBryantU”
The organizers' efforts, he says, paid dividends for the Bryant community. The University’s TEDx event, he says, is an ideal way to ignite sparks that inspire progress. “Innovation comes from people from all different walks of life and different backgrounds coming together to discuss things,” Ratcliffe shares. “It makes all of us better when we can create an amalgamation of multiple ideas and challenge each other to come up with the very best ones.”
“Innovation doesn’t just mean creating something entirely new, sometimes all it takes is looking at something familiar from a different angle,” Meise points out. “Bryant’s mission is all about combining ideas and disciplines, which is a perfect fit for an event like TEDxBryantU.”
TEDxBryantU was also an important chance to learn from each other. “This was a great opportunity to encourage everyone on this campus to be themselves and for us all to embrace everything we have to offer,” states Craig.
“I hope the audience can use today’s event to discover who they are, what makes them special, and how to use that to their advantage,” agrees Grossman.