Austin College will host the third annual TEDxAustinCollege on Saturday, September 29, 2018, in an event that will feature short (up to 15 minutes) talks by six members of the Austin College community amid interactive TEDx programming and TED Talk videos. The talks at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. will be preceded and followed by the lobby experience “Discovery Depot,” providing engaging opportunities to interact with ideas and with fellow TEDx participants. The event takes place in Wright Campus Center, with Main Stage talks in Mabee Hall and live simulcast viewing in alternate locations. The independently organized event, licensed by TED, will feature local voices and TED Talk videos under the theme of “Changing Currents.”
Advance ticket registration opens online in July and will close September 24. Seating for the live Main Stage event is limited, with tickets at $30 and discounted tickets for educators and students at $15. Lunch is included in the Main Stage ticket price. Seating for the simulcast is free, but advance registration is required.
Senior Femy Varghese of Corsicana, Texas, chairs the executive planning team, comprised of students. “Austin College fosters innovative ideas on a daily basis, both within the community and globally,” Varghese said. “These professors, students, and alumni extend their knowledge wherever they go. With this being our third year, we look for this progress to expand further as we spread ideas not only locally but all over the world.” TEDxAustinCollege was conceived in 2016 by members of the Austin College chapter of the national service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Rather than organize a service project with limited reach, the students sought a project with the potential to engage individuals beyond the local community.
Varghese said that TEDxAustinCollege has engaged the larger Austin College community, from local businesses to alumni. “Our goal for the September 29 event is for everyone to walk away learning something new, acknowledging a different viewpoint, and challenging those around them,” she added.
Austin College sophomore Shelby Bagby will speak at TEDxAustinCollege this year. “I have aspired to give a TED Talk ever since the first one I saw, and I never dreamed I would be given this opportunity as an undergraduate student,” said Bagby. “I hope the listeners walk away with the empowering confidence to strike up conversations in a new language, eager to change the notion that only bilinguals can talk.”
Alpha Phi Omega sponsor and Austin College chemistry faculty member Dr. John Richardson believes that TEDxAustinCollege has the opportunity to bring the rest of the world into the engaging, provocative, and life-changing conversations that occur daily on the campus. “Rarely do we get to celebrate monumental accomplishments. But this year, we get to celebrate a milestone of significant importance to all people as we remember the struggle for equality in education,” he said, noting Austin College’s celebration of 100 years of co-education. “This year’s TEDxAustinCollege theme reminds us of the part we play in making the small changes that have lasting impact on the people around us and the place we live.”
2018 TEDxAustinCollege Theme: “Changing Currents”
“In the late 1800s, what began as a lightning spark was transformed into usable electricity. During the early years, direct current was the accepted standard. Unchallenged. Until Nikola Tesla had an idea worth spreading. He harnessed changing currents and powered an entire city with light, flooding homes and lives with illumination never before experienced. In 1918, Austin College became a co-ed college, opening its doors to women and joining the world in changing currents. With catalysts as significant as these behind us, we invite you to be open to new currents of possibility, achievement, and action. Everyday life is powered by our behaviors and attitudes. Today will be a day for ideas to connect – for sparks to fly.”
2018 TEDxAustinCollege Speakers
Anissa Centers ’93
CATEGORY: Personal Effectiveness
Anissa Centers is an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist whose work has been seen by millions around the world. She has interviewed presidents and first ladies, senators, and world-renowned entertainers while working at television stations in Texas, Georgia, and Alabama. She made a name for herself covering nearly every hurricane and tropical storm to hit the Alabama Gulf Coast region from 1996 to 2007, including Hurricane Katrina. Her work during Katrina convinced the Alabama Associated Press to name her “Best News Anchor” in the state, an award she won several times. During one period, she won that award three years in a row. As the creator of the Talk to Win Success System, Centers uses her 20+ years as a communications coach, motivational speaker, and television broadcaster to teach clients how to communicate confidently to get more of what they want out of life.
Now back home in Texas, Centers delivers the nightly news for East Texans on KLTV. Previously, she was a news anchor at WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, where she also reported for CNN.
Shelby Bagby ’20
CATEGORY: Risk Taking, Culture Immersion
Shelby Bagby is a junior at Austin College with majors in Spanish and business finance who aspires to be a bilingual physician. She has a fierce hunger for learning all sorts of different subjects, with a special passion for Spanish. With roots in Forney, Texas, she is the youngest of four children of parents Jeff and Sheri Bagby. Her hobbies beyond school include practicing calligraphy, whistling pop songs, and watching telenovelas.
Devin Gonier ’09
CATEGORY: Science, the Morality of Artificial Intelligence
Devin Gonier is chief technology officer at the DGC Group, a small consulting firm providing gamification technologies and other analytics to large corporate clients. He regularly employs machine learning techniques as part of the data analytic services offered by DGC and is the manager of a web development team working on an online gamification platform being developed by DGC. He graduated from Austin College in 2009 with majors in philosophy and religion. After graduating, he spent six years in Tibetan areas of China working for a nonprofit, teaching English at a university, and developing an English training school. Gonier is pursuing a master’s degree in Intelligent Systems, and regularly studies the philosophical and technological implications of Artificial Intelligence. He is especially drawn to non-western (especially Buddhist) philosophical insights of the mind and how these may have relevance in the development of Artificial Intelligence.
Randi Tanglen, Ph.D.
CATEGORY: Women’s Rights, Activism
Randi Tanglen holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Arizona and is associate professor of English and director of the Gender Studies program at Austin College. She is the author of several scholarly articles and book chapters about American women and minority writers, and her opinion writing has recently appeared in the Dallas Morning News and Texas Tribune. Her TedX talk is inspired by a popular English class she teaches at Austin College called “Rise Up! Protest and Dissent in Early American Literature.” Tanglen grew up in Montana and loves hiking and exploring the shores of beautiful Lake Texoma on her stand-up paddleboard. She also is director Austin College’s Johnson Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in Teaching.
Aly Tharp ’12
CATEGORY: Community Activism, Climate Justice
Aly Tharp is an arts-activist and community organizer based in Austin, Texas, who is dedicated to catalyzing cultural shifts and community-based solutions to address climate change and the numerous intersecting ecological and social crises of the 21st century. Tharp is a proud graduate of Austin College (Class of 2012) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies. She serves as the program director for the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth, supporting Unitarian Universalist faith communities to organize in partnership and solidarity with marginalized communities affected by climate change, environmental racism, and ecological degradation. Tharp also serves as the advisory board vice president and community relations co-chair for the Festival Beach Food Forest, an edible and medicinal landscape on public parkland in the heart of Austin.
Rev. John Williams ’84, Ph.D.
CATEGORY: Inclusion of Marginalized People
John Williams is chaplain and director of church relations at Austin College and a 1984 graduate of the College. He is founder and director of the ACtivators—a ministry program through which, since 1995, 574 Austin College students have traveled over 174,000 miles to help plan and lead 682 ministry events in 13 states involving over 52,000 children, youth, college students, young adults, adults, and senior citizens. He’s a “folk & roll” songwriter (Honorable Mention at the 2015 Woody Guthrie Songwriting Contest); he has sung “Under the Boardwalk” on stage with the Persuasions; and Maya Angelou once told him, “Young man, you have strong words.”
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Sal Khan, and Daniel Kahneman.
TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self- organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.
About Austin College
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 36 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.