TEDxUIUC builds sense of community

By Masaki Sugimoto

Uncharted: The theme was clearly evident in the choice of speakers for this year as well

as in the topics addressed during the TEDx presentations this past Saturday. The event,

held at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, combined a mixture of science,

technology and societal topics relevant to the present generation of college students.

Now more than ever, the University consists of a diverse set of people from various

countries, cultures and perspectives. TEDxUIUC provided the stage to concentrate

those ideas in one place to provide awareness and inspire the audience.

One such speaker, Sakshi Srivastava, a first­year graduate student in Engineering,

spoke about her experiences as an international student and as a minority in college

and the determination it takes to succeed.

“I’m from a small town in India,” she said. “I was one of the first to pursue

undergraduate studies abroad, and that coupled with the women engineer statue

(undergoing construction in the Engineering Quad), are things I tried to which has not

been done before.

“Being an international student makes me a minority, being a women in engineering

makes me a minority, and coming here without anybody, without parents, in its most

literal sense is treading the uncharted,” she said.

Her speech embodied the ideals TEDxUIUC represented this year, as many University

students can relate to treading uncharted waters in college.

Students who attended TEDxUIUC described their feelings about the conference in a

number of ways.

Eliz Oksuz, freshman in LAS, attended the conference for the first time and said she

had no idea what to expect.

“I think the conference is really informative and inspiring,” she said. “It gave me a new

outlook on things that I never thought I would have a new outlook on.”

The speaker with whom she connected the most was Dr. Cecilia Suarez. Oksuz said

she felt the topics addressed, internal and external validation, were topics she has faced

in her lifetime and could therefore use the message Suarez presented.

Ashley Park, freshman in AHS, said she felt the conference mostly met her

expectations. When asked her feelings regarding the conference, she said, “I liked that

it wasn’t too tense, and it was really relaxed.”

Although she said she expected a bigger mix of guest speakers in addition to University

speakers, she said she felt the speaker selection added to the sense of community.

Kevin Guo, freshman in Engineering, also had no idea what to expect coming into the

conference since it was organized independently from TED Talks. The fact that it was

an independently organized event led to some confusion on how closely TEDxUIUC

would be related to TED Talks; however, Guo said he really enjoyed the conference

because the speakers were coming from a place to which he could relate. The

conference resonated with him because he felt that “one day, I could be something like


The highlight of the conference as a whole seemed to be the emphasis on different

types of struggles and issues the University community faces today.

As TEDxUIUC’s “Uncharted” came to a close, loud cheers and claps could be heard

across the audience, signifying an end to the 2016 conference.

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