TEDx JHU: Forging the future

Each year, TEDxJHU brings together a number of inspirational speakers who are all connected by an underlying theme to share their stories on campus. The theme this year was ‘Forging the Future’, which brought together innovators from the fields of biomedical engineering, arts and media, athletics, and much more. There were eight unique stories about individuals who brought about change and their struggles to overcome any difficulties along the way.

TEDx is completed organized by students and independent of TED. However, the presentation itself goes as any TED talk goes: a speaker goes on stage, stands on a red dotted carpet, and gives a visual and audio presentation for 15 minutes. The speakers ranged from Jordan Green, a Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineer who worked on engineering cells in bodies, to Mina Cheon, a Korean-American global new media artist. Apart from the talks, the intermission welcomed a never seen before Acapella beat boxing performance given by musical duo Peter Zhu and Jeremy Earnest, a cognitive science beat boxer and a Peabody composition singer. The Artist-in-Residence for TEDxJHU was DC-based Katherine Mann, who explained the concept behind her art that stems from her inspiration to create and populate new space while immersing the viewer into her fantastical environment.

Other notable speakers from the event included Schuyler Bailer, the first transgender athlete to be on the NCCA Division I men’s swimming team. Apart from being able to entertain the crowd, Schuyler’s stories related to everyone sitting in the room. Schuyler began with a story of him overcoming his fear of revealing his decision for transgender surgery to his grandparents and ended with his journey of overcoming his shoulder injury in the midst of swim season. Cecilia Bao, Program Director of TEDX noted that “My favorite part was definitely the final speaker, Schuyler Bailar. His talk was especially inspiring because he shared how he was able to tackle seemingly insurmountable obstacles by breaking them down into tiny tasks and focusing his energy on completing each of those small steps.”

Through the wide variety of speakers and messages, students were able to hear the voices of world leaders who are shaping the future of science, arts, media, sports, and innovation. After many years, TEDX has organized yet another successful and aspiring series of talks that motivate all students to pursue their dreams and passions.