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Daniels students Isbel Depner and Alexis Gutierrez reflect on their experiences at TEDxMileHigh

Daniels students at TEDxMileHigh

From Isbel Depner:
Robin Williams once said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” I had the pleasure of attending TEDxMileHigh’s biannual speaker event, TEDx: Imagine, a place not short of new ideas. Anyone who has watched a TED talk knows that the inspiring words of the speakers are enough to give you chills. This event was no exception.

My fellow Alpha Kappa Psi (the coed professional business fraternity) members and I entered the Buell Theater with excitement about the motivating day ahead of us. The curator and emcee, Jeremy Duhon, started out the day with some expectations. We would be listening to some intelligent and inspiring ideas about the future of issues within the government, global climate, space exploration, and racial and gender equity, among others. We were invited to not only discuss our opinions on the ideas but question the speaker and disagree. The TED organization intends to bring communities together to open minds to new ideas, which made it a lot easier to ask questions and discuss with others what they think.

A speaker in the first session who caught my attention was Danny Rankin, a graphic designer and professor at The University of Colorado-Boulder. He spoke about his journey in design and his mission to bring attention to important issues through subversive design. He talked of an anti-advertising group, Brandalism, who put up posters in Paris during the climate talks calling out Volkswagen for their faked emissions testing. Rankin teaches his graphic design students through promoting social change. He said that by bringing attention to the power of big corporations, we can change important issues in our world. As a business student, this is an important concept to me and helps to put a new perspective on how the world can better come together as a community.

TEDxMileHigh was held at the Buell Theater in Denver

During the second half, performance art ruled. Emeritus Poet Laureate of Aurora, Colorado, Jovan Mays, brought emotion to the theater with his slam poetry. His passionate tone and poetic verses yielded tears from the audience in no time. Mays’ performance was a good reminder of how precious life is. Emotion is a powerful tool and, when used correctly, can inspire and connect people in ways we could not imagine.

The speakers were not the only thing TEDx provided at the event to encourage us to use our imaginations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (better known as FEMA) showed through virtual reality how floods can devastate a community and explained why they are the No. 1 most destructive natural disaster. University of Colorado-Boulder bioastronautics demonstrated how astronauts will someday live and work on Mars. Scattered around were stations encouraging guests to create and think about their own lives, including the “Before I Die” wall. My answer: to travel to all seven continents.

TEDxMileHigh was a day full of possibilities. A day to think about ourselves and the world around us. Most importantly, it was a day for us to start a conversation with or about something new. Robin Williams knew the power of words and TEDx reminded us that it is okay to start new and potentially intimidating conversations. My hope is that the ideas and messages shared will spark connections and change in Denver, the U.S. and the world.

From Alexis Gutierrez:

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2019 TEDxMileHigh Imagine event with Alpha Kappa Psi. I have always found TED talks to be extremely interesting and always wanted to experience one of these events live. I wasn’t sure what to expect at all but from what my friends who had previously gone had told me, it was going to be an amazing experience.

TEDxMileHigh hosted 14 speakers

When I checked the website to see who the speakers were going to be, I was intrigued to see such a diverse array of topics and people. This is an all-day event that can seem a little intimidating to some but it is well worth it to stay for the whole thing. There were 14 speakers and presenters that were divided up into two sessions. Each person had their own story and overall message to share. There were also small interactive activities outside of the auditorium that guests could explore and learn about different topics, like sound bath therapy or edible insects.

The talks and performances ranged from an aerospace engineer discussing the importance of a well-designed spacesuit to achieve a human mission to Mars, to an extremely talented poet who shared his emotion-provoking poem about a young gifted student who had lost his life way too young. Each person had their chunk of time to share their performance but none of them lasted too long. I really enjoyed this aspect of the event because it allowed me to stay present during each talk. I didn’t get bored with topics that would usually not interest me, like marine biology, because they didn’t go too deep into detail, but were still very informative.

TedxMileHigh curator, Jeremy Duhon, moderated the event

My favorite part about the whole experience was sitting in the auditorium and learning about the many diverse topics. Many of the speakers were people who I would have never thought to seek out, yet when I actually sat down and took the time to listen to their speech, I was blown away by their message and what they had taught me in the short amount of time. One speaker that stood out to me was Jennifer Reich, a public health expert and professor of sociology at the University of Colorado-Denver. She had a very interesting take on child vaccinations and proposed the idea of thinking of vaccines as something that helps the greater good of society, not just one individual person.

This is a topic that has become very present in our society today and in my opinion, it is very important to be able to have an open dialog like this. The overall message of TEDxMileHigh is to open the door to dialogue and discussion on topics that we might not agree on. The curator and emcee of the event, Jeremy Duhon, would periodically remind the audience that it was all right not to agree with all of the speakers but to allow this to create some discussion opportunities.

Overall, my time at TEDxMileHigh was amazing and I plan on inviting my friends and family to the next one. It was such an amazing environment where we were surrounded by people that were interested in learning about these diverse topics, came in with an open mind and each brought something different to the table. I highly encourage anyone who might have the opportunity to go to one of these events to take advantage of that and jump on the bandwagon. It will be a day full of learning, laughing and exploring.