The Speakers of TEDxUBC 2018

TED Talks have grown an almost mythical aura around them. With successful and high-profile people like Elon MuskSarah SilvermanGeorge Takei, and even Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir having talks under the belt, it may seem like a platform for celebrities, successful business people, and distinguished academics. TEDx conferences (with the x indicating an independently organized TED event) are changing this perception by inviting people from all walks of life and at all stages in their educational path and career to present their ideas that are worth sharing. I got a chance to catch up with five UBC student speakers from this Saturday’s TEDxUBC event to ask them what inspires them about TED and what stories they’ll be sharing on the TEDx stage.

 


ADRIANA LAURENT

4th year, LFS Global Resource Systems, BSc

 

Favourite TED Talk:

 

How did you first hear about TED talks?

Adriana: I heard about TED for the first time at a Sustainability Storytelling night! It was so awesome to hear so many inspiring stories from my fellow peers and I decided to apply.

 

Can you summarize what your talk will focus on?

Adriana: I’m going to talk about climate justice – how the most marginalized communities all over the world are disproportionately impacted by climate change. Climate change is a social justice issue and I’ll be unpacking this complex issue through a lens of personal storytelling.

 

Where does the inspiration behind your topic come from?

Adriana: The first memory I ever have was of Hurricane Mitch, the deadliest hurricane in the last 200 years. I saw the impact of severe weather on my community and how it was deeply connected to social inequality and wanted to shed light to how these two issues intersect.

 

What kind of YouTube videos are the most distracting for you when you’re trying to study?

Adriana: The Tastemade videos! I love food and their recipe videos are so distracting! I also love dog videos (I can’t stop watching them once I start).

 

What’s your game plan for TEDxUBC, day of?

Adriana: A good night’s sleep, enough coffee, a healthy breakfast and some soothing music to calm my nerves!

 


CHARMAINE LEE

3rd year, Computer Science, BSc

 

Favourite TED Talk: 

How did you first hear about TED talks?

Charmaine: One of my high school teachers used to love TED talks so we would actually spend any free time we had in class watching them. Those short videos slowly became my sprinkles of motivation throughout my years there.

 

Can you summarize what your talk will focus on?

Charmaine: The talk is basically the “That’s what you missed on Glee” version of my life, which for a long time revolved around the virtual pets online game, Neopets. I thought it would be a fun snippet to share because looking back, that game and the people I met through it are the reasons I’m studying Computer Science today. I also bring up topics like open-source software and most importantly, the strengths of diversity and representation along the way.

 

Where does the inspiration behind your topic come from?

Charmaine: The glass ceiling is a barrier that a lot of minorities and women face trying to advance in their careers. I am passionate about hacking that glass ceiling, and what better way to do that, than to do it together?

 

What kind of YouTube videos are the most distracting for you when you’re trying to study?

Charmaine:I still remember the night before an exam when I stumbled upon a YouTube recording of Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (please watch it if you haven’t already). By the time the video faded to darkness, I rolled up my slightly damp shirt sleeve and dreamt about a day when I would get to share my own journey, a day when a narrative of my journey would be worthy of someone’s time. It was a +1 for my life motivation but a -1 for my exam the next day. So I guess you could say videos like that really get me.

 

What’s your game plan for TEDxUBC, day of?

Charmaine: I’ll try to wake up early on the day of and rehearse a couple times in the mirror before heading out. Then, I’ll have to let fate handle the rest!

 


CORAL MORE

3rd year, Honours Psychology, BA

 

Favourite TED Talk:

 

How did you first hear about TED talks?

Coral: It might have been in high school, as my writing teacher would show us TED Talks in class. At the same time, I discovered slam poetry on YouTube, and those videos and TED Talks started showing up in my suggested videos.

 

Can you summarize what your talk will focus on?

Coral: I am linking my poetry to my talk, which is on my struggles with borderline personality disorder and the stigma around mental illness and, more specifically, pervasive chronic mental illness. I think there are still a lot of disorders that aren’t being talked about even with the awesome stigma battling that has been going on. I’m also going to talk about the dimensional model of personality disorder, and performing a poem I wrote about BPD.

 

Where does the inspiration behind your topic come from?

Coral: There’s a lot of stigma around personality disorders, even within the field of psychology, which is almost harder than stigma from outside the field, where you can expect there to be a little bit of ignorance. Psychoeducation and having a name for what someone is struggling with can be a real form of therapy and for me, learning about the dimensional model of personality disorders has been helpful in understanding that I’m not broken: everyone has the same personality traits, but they just express themselves on different levels.

 

What kind of YouTube videos are the most distracting for you when you’re trying to study?

Coral: That’s really tricky – I really like art videos. Just watching people paint things is so relaxing. I can sit there and watch them for hours and hours.

 

What’s your game plan for TEDxUBC, day of?

Coral: My partner and I usually go to bed around 9:30, and I’ll try to get to TEDxUBC early in the morning. I’ll definitely get a coffee misto – it’s my comfort drink!


LUC BRIEDE-COOPER

4th year, Physics, BSc

 

Favourite TED Talk:

How did you first hear about TED talks?

Luc: At some point in high school I stumbled upon it online or it was shown to me through a teacher, friend or parent. I can’t remember exactly.

 

Can you summarize what your talk will focus on?

Luc: I will demonstrate how the vibrant ecosystem of unofficial, student-led internet communities at UBC play a crucial role in forming student culture on UBC’s isolated commuter campus. I show that these communities are worth preservation and analysis on the part of university administrators and academics in general.

 

Where does the inspiration behind your topic come from?

Luc: After I accepted my offer for UBC in the spring of 2013 I joined an unofficial UBC Facebook group for incoming students. Before I even arrived on campus I had already built a sense of the UBC experience. We even started a Facebook group for that student club which saw activity. With young adults increasingly using social media and Internet based platforms in every aspect of their lives, the student created Subreddits, Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, Whats App chats, We Chat groups, and more have a pervasive role in shaping the student experience early on and throughout their time on campus.  

 

What kind of YouTube videos are the most distracting for you when you’re trying to study?

Luc: I have a peculiar and unexpectedly strong interest in Roman history. I think I’ve watched every Historia Civilis video twice.

 

What’s your game plan for TEDxUBC, day of?

I’ll start my day confident by waking up early, dressing sharp, eating well, exercising, and getting some Physics homework done before going over my talk one more time.

 


VAROON MATHUR

4th year, Computer Science, BCs

 

Favourite TED Talk:

 

How did you first hear about TED talks?

Varoon: Like most people, I didn’t really understand the concept of TED until someone sent me a YouTube video with a relevant talk. Over time, I gained an understanding of TED and then TEDx as an event where people come together to share ideas that are inspirational and personal at the same time.

 

Can you summarize what your talk will focus on?

Varoon: It’s about how artificial intelligence is growing rapidly in the coming days and weeks of this year, and what that looks like in the field of medicine. From a computer science perspective, my talk tries to illuminate what the ethical considerations are for engineers, as in the healthcare space there isn’t a real framework for thinking about these brand new innovative technologies. My talk brings in my past experiences in global policy and technology and tries to map a path forward to think about ethics in healthcare and understand the societal implications of this new technology, while continuing to be innovative.

 

Where does the inspiration behind your topic come from?

Varoon: This is my second degree. I started the computer science degree first and foremost because I was really interested in AI as it pertains to healthcare. My first degree was in Life Sciences at Queens University, where I spent most of my time as a global health activist, focusing on health systems and affordability of healthcare technology. Those two passions came together, and I started thinking about developing AI technology for marginalized peoples, and the ethical implications for these technologies. Also, this field is so brand new that there just aren’t that many talks out there, so I saw this as an opportunity to break the ice on this subject.

 

What kind of YouTube videos are the most distracting for you when you’re trying to study?

Varoon: I don’t have a Facebook account, so I’ve tried to fill that void by subscribing to a ton of channels on YouTube. I procrastinate most with food channels, like Strictly Dumpling, or Hot Ones, where people travel and eat food all over the world. They’re so easy to get lost in, but they make me hungry all the time.

 

What’s your game plan for TEDxUBC, day of?

Varoon: This will be one of the first talks where I will be really rehearsing, as usually I kind of wing it as a public speaker. For this one, I’ll focus on keeping my mind fresh by getting plenty of sleep!

 


Note: This post will be updated in the future with all of the talks from these speakers once they are posted. Stay tuned!