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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

Sparking Connections a success from TEDx at AU

TEDx comes to Ashland for public speaking event 
Madison Ferrell
AU’s TEDx banner that was hung on campus for the event.

On Feb 13., TEDx officially came to Ashland University. TEDx is an independently organized event inspired by TED which is a non-profit conference where public speakers can speak about ideas they believe should be spread.  

The event occurred from 3 to 6 p.m. In the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium. The event had eight speakers all with very different approaches to the theme, Sparking Connections.  

The first speaker of the event was, Dr. Deleasa Randall-Griffiths, AU professor of communications, with her speech titled, Stories Spark Connection from the Heart. 

She talked about family stories and how there are different kinds, plus the purpose of family stories, contexts, genres and functions. 

“I do know one thing about everyone in this room: We are all storytellers. I’ve been telling stories, teaching and researching stories for years and you might not have delved that deeply into the topic but you’re telling stories everyday of your life, how we make sense of the world. So, if I get one TED Talk in my life, I want it to be on stories,” said Randall-Griffiths.  

She left the audience to think about your families’ stories, to transmit family history and learn who you came from.  

According to Randall-Griffiths, asking questions and listening carefully about history sparks connections. Sharing those stories is the best way to spark connections heart to heart with your family. 

Maksym Polianskyi, a student at AU spoke about “Sparking Compassion”, describing how he learned compassion through the struggle of coming from Ukraine to study at Ashland University in the heat of the war.  

“I am an individual who loves, who supports, who trusts. All these nouns must mean and describe something – something that is uncommon and this something is compassion,” said Polianskyi.  

Polianskyi described the ways of compassion: Love, support, trust, and shared stories on how he developed compassion in all these ways.  

He used the example of searching for a hidden gem to express compassion and how though it’s natural for most, for others it can take some uncovering for it to show.   

Associate Professor of Communication Memphis College of Urban Theological Studies, Dr. Cicely Wilson, spoke next on her topic of “Education Sparks Growth” talking about 

How any type of education can be the difference between poverty and parents earning enough to provide for their children, it all starts when you take those classes. 

“My time in education has taught me that education is like my favorite firework, sparklers. Those handheld sparklers seem fairly safe, but they can ignite things into the unthinkable,” said Wilson.  

According to Wilson, learning experiences can spark something in you. Education is the great agent of change as it expands a person’s potential and to see what ignites. 

Professional Speaker, Reed Byers took a more serious tone in his TED Talk, “How to Save a Life”. 

“This isn’t going to be your average TED Talk, it’s a cry for help, it’s a call for action and most importantly it’s a message from my heart,” said Byers. 

Byers talked about how you can find relationships to communicate your struggle. You might not be the only one asking for help and by just finding people to express yourself, you can make those connections into something meaningful, and you could save a life.  

AU student, Katelyn Meeks spoke on “The Gift of Struggling” and how learning how to struggle when maintaining a success is the real challenge.  

“Have you ever received a gift you didn’t want? It’s like struggling, struggling is the thing you do not want, but it’s the thing you need,” said Meeks. 

Meeks used examples on her own experiences of raising and showcasing turkeys to describe how struggling can be a gift.  

Author J.P Mitchell’s speech topic was “When She Finds Her Fire” where she spoke on how girls need to find their passion and strengthen it.  

“I’d like to propose today that when a girl or woman finds her fire, everybody wins,” said Mitchell.  

She encouraged the audience to find their fire and help others find theirs. According to Mitchell when women find their fire, they use it to light up others. If you bring your fire to the table, you should share it.  

Michael Gershe, a graduate of Ashland University, spoke on the topic of being “Saved by our Connections”, and the importance of finding connections with others.  

“In our lifetime we spark connections with people that will impact our lives in many ways, sometimes these people may even save our lives. These are the connections that we must hold near and dear to our heart and souls,” said Gershe. 

It’s those people we connect with that save us. Gershe suggested asking for help even though it can be hard, you don’t know when your life could impact others. 

The last speaker of the evening was Jennifer Winiger, a teacher, whose TED Talk was on “Courageous Connections” from her experience of studying abroad and speaking more than one language.  

“Have you ever done something crazy because you’ve felt afraid? Sometimes we fear the things we do not understand,” said Winiger.  

She encouraged the audience to embrace the opportunity to learn something new. Winiger also challenged them to connect with someone who is different than you. 

“I hope I encouraged people; I’ve had two people stop me and say something about their families so that’s always my goal is to get people talking.” 

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