Weber State University students, faculty and alumni joined in a global initiative on Friday by sharing their ideas in the Worthy of Your Dreams TEDx event held in the Eccles Theater of the Val. A Browning Center.
TEDx is an independently organized event inspired through the TED conference, a nonprofit devoted to “ideas worth spreading” and is a way for local communities to spread ideas and stimulate dialogue.
WSU’s TEDx event showcased many students and professors on campus as well as community members in a way that allowed them to each share their own unique experiences. WSU’s event was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Continuing Education, WSU Online, the Teaching and Learning Forum, the Information Technology Division and the Provost’s Office.
Tim Border, an assistant professor of professional sales and technology, said he was excited about the opportunity to influence on a larger level by connecting and sharing. Border discussed how the media and its negative bias is distracting people, making them behave and think certain ways, creating patterns that distract people from making decisions worthy of their dreams.
“I really want people to leave thinking, ‘What can I be doing on a regular basis to really impact where I’m at and what I’m doing, and is it a priority? Is what I’m doing really helping me to get to where I want to go?'” Border said. “Every day, everyone should inventory their actions and ask themselves, ‘Is it worthy of my dreams?'”
Border asked audience members to spend $1 buying a notebook and for the next 30 days write down an entry starting with “What I did today worthy of my dream . . .”
India Nielsen, the WSU senator for the College of Arts & Humanities; Mandie Barnes, a recent graduate in public relations; and Stuart Call, a senior in political science, are all Walker Institute interns who spoke during the conference. They discussed the influence their internships have had on them and how, by going through the internship, they were all able to discover things about themselves and develop their strengths.
Nielsen had an internship last summer in Washington D.C. with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She said she never expected to have an opportunity working in the field of health or in an organization like the CDC. She said it allowed her to see how much potential she has to grow, comparing it to the fruit in the community gardens she helped develop through the internship.
“The internship with Family Health International made me realize the potential that one person has to grow a community and how essential a community is,” Nielsen said. “One individual can plant the seeds of inspiration to grow an entire community and make a positive impact.”
Professor of physics Adam Johnston discussed the innovations of technology. Using a PowerPoint with pictures of children exploring and learning during the Science in the Parks event, Johnston explained to the audience that they may be asking the wrong questions when looking for new innovations for learning.
“We have all these possibilities for learning, and we have to think about what those possibilities can be before we can start to think about how we can innovate,” Johnston said. “Often we’re asking the wrong question altogether when we ask the question ‘How do I teach?’ . . . I think we need to ask the question why are we educating.”
WSU President Charles Wight also spoke during the conference. He shared his plan for how colleges should share the burden when students default on their loans. Student loan debt has exceeded $1 trillion. The three-year national default of student loans is at 14.7 percent, increasing each year.
“Universities have a very strong, vested interest in maintaining a healthy student loan system,” Wight said. “One of the greatest threats to higher education today is the possibility that student loan programs might be discontinued. Universities must take more responsibility for loan defaults of their students.”
Wight explained that every time a student defaulted on a student loan, the university or college would be responsible to pay for a percentage of the default. The percentage would be determined by the institution’s three-year cohort default rate, which is published by the United States Department of Education.
Associate professor of physics Stacy Palen discussed the creations of life, from before the big bang theory to where the earth is today, explaining that the universe is so much bigger than any one person’s experiences and it is difficult to imagine.
“We have multiplied, and we have spread, and we have consumed, and every year we run deeper in debt to nature,” Palen said. “But we have an advantage . . . we can dream of a different future, we can dream of a different way. I want to give you a challenge to go dream a better ending to the story, and then make it happen.”
Sarah Steimel, an assistant professor of communications, explained invitational rhetoric and how social media has allowed individuals more opportunity to be heard, but that it has become such a constant it is creating a dysfunction in communication and people are increasingly hiding, blocking or unfriending people because of their persuasive positions.
“Our Republicans and Democrats are increasingly focused on persuading others to their points of view rather than conversation or meeting in the middle,” Steimel said. “Imagine what it would look like if we began all our conversations on Facebook and in Congress with phrases like ‘how could we’ rather than ‘you must.'”
Karlee Berezay, a WSU LGBT advocate, spoke of how everyone surrounding students, including themselves, focus on the goal of graduation, which will move them closer to their dreams, yet the moments of now are lost with only being focused on the future.
Berezay elaborated to the audience using a story of her learning to drive and only focusing on the road ahead. When she and her father reached their destination, she finally realized where she was, but had not noticed the journey to get there because she was too focused on the road. She said this is how students only focused on the road to graduation miss out on the journey that gets them there.
“When I look up, I see that I am taught by amazing professors,” Berezay said. “I am learning and doing more than I could have ever imagined. It is amazing the things that we (students) do . . . I think it is amazing that I come to campus with thousands of other students who have dreams just like I do . . . yet it is as if we do not realize we are among other dreamers on campus.”
X96 Radio from Hell host Bill Allred wrapped up the event by giving his personal experience of being a graduate of Weber State College and the trials he has been through to find his passion in life. One event in particular that helped him to pay more attention was a trip to Mount Everest. He went in unprepared, but came out with a better understanding of his strengths.
“It’s only with the proper framework and with years of planning that you can allow yourself to soar,” Allred said. “That’s the only way you will ever get through. Plan, plan and pay attention.”
For those unable to attend or watch the livestream of WSU’s TEDx event, more information will be posted on TED.com this week.