The on-campus lecture series asks the question: What’s next?

TEDxUMiami, a TED Talk event, will host academic and community speakers on campus on Thursday to discuss thought-provoking topics.

Sitting in her ninth grade classroom, Dija Thomas remembers watching her first TED Talk. Fascinated by the range of topics covered throughout the series, she envisioned one day sharing her views with an audience on a TEDx stage.

When she arrived at the University of Miami, Thomas, a Miami senior studying public relations, realized her vision could finally come to fruition through TEDxUMiami.

“When I found out there was a TEDx series on campus, I decided I had to go,” Thomas recalls. “I’ve been able to see my peers and mentors give TED talks through TEDxUMiami in the past. It’s amazing to finally have the opportunity to deliver mine and have the space to share my ideas.

The TEDxUMiami Speaker Series returns to the ballrooms of Shalala Student Center on Thursday. TED, an acronym for technology, entertainment, and design, is a nonprofit organization aimed at spreading ideas around the world, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TEDx events are affiliated but independently organized versions of TED Talks designed to stimulate dialogue on a local level.

“TEDx is a great opportunity at the University that encourages anyone in the community who has an idea to share to give a TED talk,” said Joe Broehl, political science student and co-director of TEDxUMiami. “This TEDx is especially special to me since it will be our first event since the pandemic began.”

The theme for this year’s event, “What’s Next?” taps into each speaker’s life experiences and how they carry those experiences into the future. The idea, Broehl said, serves as a call to action and contemplation as we examine reality, reflect on experiences, and come to our collective rebirth.

“”What we were thinking about coming out of the pandemic was, ‘What’s in store for us next in our own lives, our careers or even in science and technology?’ Broehl added. “We wanted our speakers to focus on what their life experiences have taught them and how others can relate to it for what awaits them next.”

Eboni Arnold, a senior neuroscience student and co-director of TEDxUMiami with Broehl, joined the organization three years ago, hoping to ignite a passion for change in others.

“I hope this TEDx series sparks new ideas and inspiration for our local community,” Arnold said. “This event is an opportunity to give our community and our students a forum to express themselves. This can be a big problem, especially because speaking students may not have a seat at the table in other spaces.

Divided into three sessions, 11 speakers will address the audience on the environment, mental health, diversity and inclusion, and motherhood and college. Speakers come from across the community, including University of Miami students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Thomas’ talk will discuss how disaster preparedness bred resilience in his life.

“Growing up in Miami, a lot of us are used to preparing for hurricanes,” Thomas said. “I will discuss how preparing for a storm has helped prepare me to deal with negative emotions in life and especially associated with the pandemic, and how to use it to have a different outlook on life. I hope to encourage others to have this introspection in their own lives to deal with different challenges and strong emotional moments.

The event is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Shalala Student Center ballrooms. Sessions last one hour and include three speakers per session. Participants must be present throughout the session.

To see the full lineup of TEDxUMiami speakers and their topics.

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