TEDxUofW encourages students to explore options

Daniel Nguyen, sophomore, speaks about the new approach to improving the human experience on campus. Photo by Joseph Oh

The executive team members of TEDxUofW hosted the first ever UW Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TEDx) event under the theme of “The Next Generation.”

Junior Tim Tan, co-curator of TEDxUofW, said the theme might seem like an obvious choice for an event targeting university students, but the organizers hoped to focus on not just the next generation of people, but what they will build.

“None of us have the answer for what’s going to be happening, but together we might be able to get a better idea of it and possibly become the people who build it,” Tan said.

TEDxUofW also aimed to build bridges between individuals who attended the event, said junior Karthika Appiah, co-curator of the TEDxUofW.


TED, a nonprofit organization, has advocated spreading ideas since it was founded in 1984 as a conference intended to bring together experts from the fields of technology, entertainment, and design. TEDx events are independent events organized under the TED Talk name that target specific communities or organizations.

The TEDxUofW event idea was originally formed about during the UW Leaders program that Tan, sophomore Kartik Rishi, and Appiah were involved in. The team experienced a few hardships — like bringing in sponsors as well as logistics involved with an event of this magnitude which even led to postponing the event a couple of times.

Once the event came together, the speakers — who included students and professionals from a variety of fields — focused on the future of technology, culture, and business. Guest speaker Eugene Cho, the executive director of One Day’s Wages, an organization dedicated to alleviating global poverty, said ideas are overrated because acting on them is what matters.

This talk affected senior engineering student Donelyn Rollolazo.

“Here he is talking about how a lot of people have ideas, but they need to act on it, so it’s kind of like, ‘Crap, he knows me. He sees inside me,’” Rollolazo said. “It’s reassuring that I need to follow my passion.”

The speakers at the event also included students. Sophomore Andrew Mak discussed the topic of “wander” — the importance of exploring one’s options before making the ultimate decision of what he or she may want to do.

Senior Blanca Chavez said the event made her realize it’s OK to wander.

“I’m graduating this quarter, and I’m not quite sure what I’m doing,” Chavez said. “I’m still wandering.”

Freshman Kevin Birrell, one of the speakers at the event and one of only four Tetris grand masters outside of Japan, said some people are able to handle their lifestyles the way they are, but people should strive to find their true passions.

“I can’t handle something I don’t enjoy,” Birrel said. “For me, I think that TEDTalk really encourages people that are similarly minded and reassures them that they can focus on something that they are passionate about, and it’s a great opportunity to see those results.”

Senior Marcus Ramirez said the speech from sophomore Daniel Nguyen was memorable. Nguyen believes people are becoming more enclosed and isolated; therefore, it’s important to share stories with one another.

Nguyen explained how meeting someone new each day, an act he has been striving

to do, is a simple project in which everyone can participate.

“[The speech inspired] me to find something that I’m passionate about, even something as simple as Daniel’s Operation Compassion that everyone could do on the side,” Ramirez said. “It makes me want to be a speaker for TEDTalks.”

Appiah encouraged all UW students to follow their passions.

“If you have your sights set on something, go for it, because there will always be roadblocks.”

Reach contributing writer Matthew Kawatani at development@dailyuw.com.

Twitter: @matthewkawatani

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