Oakland City University Hosts TEDx Talk

Discussion on Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) was fully displayed at Oakland City University on Friday, April 21, 2023, at the first annual TEDxOCU.  The Cornwell-Reed Recital Hall was adorned in TEDxOCU and theatrical lighting, offering a warm and inviting environment. 

The event was arranged by Dr. Luke Douglas and organized by Dr. Douglas and the OCU Development, Marketing, and Communications team.  Dr. Douglas was inspired to seek a TED Talk after OCU President Dr. Ron Dempsey challenged OCU's faculty and staff to think of new ideas and events to feature on the campus.  The OCU strategic plan calls for the university to become the region's professional Christian University. 

TED Talks are aimed at a global audience, while TEDx talks are designed for smaller audiences, with a maximum of 100 attendees per speaker.  TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment, and Design converged.  Today Ted Talks have expanded to explore every imaginable topic. 

On that April day, President Dempsey welcomed the audience and turned over the microphone to Master of Ceremonies Dr. Steve Custer.    

A skilled and knowledgeable line-up of speakers was featured in OCU's TEDx talk.  As defined by the TED organization, each speaker was limited to 18 minutes.  

World-renowned motivational speaker Dr. Ruben West from Illinois kicked off the event with his charge to the audience to not wait but simply go out and do what God has placed us on His earth to do.  Dr. West's talk was titled "What's Your Contribution?"   

Meagan Hill from Texas, attending the University of California, Riverside, talked about Women in STEM and not allowing oneself to get overwhelmed with anxiety over success.  Meagan was recently selected to be an intern for the Space X program.  She beat out over 40,000 other applicants.  And in May, NASA selected Meagan to complete an internship program following her Space X internship. 

Evansville Christian High School sophomore and Newburgh, Indiana resident Laney Alsman spoke about Diversity and spreading the Word of God while coexisting in the world around us.    

Mighty Oaks soccer player and Evansville, Indiana resident Annabelle Lansdale described her passion for riding horses and giving that experience to those with fewer means to pay for such a service.  Annabelle explained how acting on her desire to ride created a new desire: to give that same joy to others.  She created a business model around both passions and successfully executed her plan. 

Oakland City University Assistant Professor of Physics Education, Dr. Hector Will, gave deep insights into the new Artificial Intelligence phenomena.  Dr. Will asked the audience not to be afraid to embrace the latest technology and get ahead of what is coming.   

Next, a teenage entrepreneur named Kingston Chambers of Evansville, Indiana builds websites for small businesses in the Evansville, Indiana region.  The 15-year-old high school and higher ed student, yes, you read that right, a high school and higher ed student, Kingston, specializes in coding.  His discussion at the TEDxOCU was centered around minorities in coding.A Junior Honors student at OCU, Mr. Shad Sutton, studying Criminal Justice with a concentration in forensic science, methodically took the audience through his self-destructive alcohol and drug addiction and how it almost ruined his life.  However, with the grace of God, he found his way back and is now a recovering addict on track to leave OCU with a path forward in a high-demand profession. Grief - Lonny Chapman discussed a father's journey after losing his son.  A lifelong Evansville, Indiana resident, Lonny and his wife Nikki became bereaved Parents of a cancer patient and their child, Cooper.  Lonny captivated the audience by describing his grief after losing his son.  Lonny educated the audience about the painful recovery of their loss and how the cliche that "time heals all wounds" is misleading. 

As an educational institution, OCU understands the importance of students attending class under optimal conditions, not just in the classroom but in their personal lives too.  OCU grad, Jen Teachenor, is a National Outstanding American Teacher award winner, recognized by the Society of Middle Tennessee for her impact on the lives of students with Asperger's Syndrome, an author whose novel, Beautiful Life debuted as an Amazon Best-Seller, spoke to the TEDx audience about the importance of trauma-informed practices in education.  She lamented her personal story about growing up in a low-income family where her daily routine included caring for her siblings and others while trying to concentrate and care about the work she had to do at school.  She mentioned that all educators need to understand why a student is struggling and how it may not be just because the dog ate their homework.  The final speaker, OCU grad, adjunct professor, military veteran, Nashville entertainer, and husband to Jen, Mr. Jamie Teachenor, wowed the audience with a song and message.  His message spoke to how people confuse who we are in Christ with what we do for a living and the struggles that follow when we heed God's call to follow him through a new path.  As a successful musician and writer in the power mix of Nashville's elite, God called Jamie to leave it all behind and uproot his family to join the military.