TED Talks have been creating national conversation for several years, and SMU did not hesitate to become an active contributor to the larger community.
TEDxSMU began three years ago with the “main goal [of] student engagement,” according to Director Heather Hankamer. And while more and more people have learned about TED, Hankamer said the program’s main question has been how that “translates into getting involved.”
The Carole and Jim Young Fellows program grew out of that question, and began a direct partnership with TED in the fall of 2012 as one of seven inaugural universities to participate in the direct connection program.
“It’s a really good way to get that engagement piece from all the great ideas and speakers we have that are often missing,” Hankamer explained.
Two students from each school at SMU are selected to “spend the year” with the TEDxSMU engaging “not only in what [TED] does on campus,” but also serving as “mentors to the TEDxKids conference,” part of the “big cornerstone conference” the TED program does yearly.
“Students’ time is precious, so [we] want to make sure the students…who participate in this have a passion for and understand…the core values of TED,” Hankamer said.
In keeping with the mission “to engage the student and to spread these ideas that are going on here, in Dalla, and around the world,” Hankamer said the program seeks applicants who bring a passion for “sharing specific ideas
“We’re looking for students that have a passion for something that they are doing that they want to get out there,” Hankamer said.
Those in the Young Fellows program “learn how to get up [in front of an audience] and translate [their] passion into something.”
LyAnna Smith, a graduate student at Perkins School of Theology and a Young Fellow, said the program has allowed her to do just that.
She will give her own TED Talk during the upcoming 2013 TED Conference in October, focusing in on the foster care system. She said the Young Fellows program has exposed her to many ideas, issues and topics that “most people otherwise would not invest” their time in researching.
The availability and sharing of these ideas is the collarborative community process that TEDxSMU seeks to focus on. Hankamer said that the take-away for students is as much about personal skills as it is about initiative and teamwork.
“It’s leadership skills, it’s communication skills, and learning how to meet and engage with those in your community,” Hankamer said. “Being able to to communicate and explain [one passion] to a wide vairety of audience…in a short period of time…is a [key] skill.”
Applications to the Young Fellows program will be accepted until this Friday.