Get to know the six speakers selected to explore this year's theme, "The Unexpected," on the circular red carpet stage.
Jacqueline is an associate professor, director of music education and chair of musical studies at DePaul’s School of Music. Her research focuses on culturally responsive teaching, the role of social justice in music teacher education programs and musical composition in k-12th grade classrooms. Jacqueline also serves as a consultant for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Institute for Learning, Access and Training and Ravinia’s Reach Teach Play® program. She earned her doctorate in music education from Northwestern University.
Jamal is a graduate student in DePaul’s School of Public Service. He also served in the United States Navy. Following his military service, Jamal volunteered for Chicago’s YMCA Urban Warriors program, a service that pairs veterans with youth exposed to violence in some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods to strengthen coping skills and community engagement. For his program efforts, he received Letters of Commendation from the Obama Administration and United States Senator Mark Kirk, and earned media coverage with National Public Radio and CBS News.
Coya is the interim dean of The Theatre School at DePaul and the artistic director of Chicago’s historic Free Street Theater. She is also the cofounder of the Proyecto Latina collective, served as the founding co-artistic director of Teatro Luna for nine years and co-authored Ensemble-Made Chicago: A Guide to Devised Theater. Raised in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and the United States, she holds a doctorate in performance studies from Northwestern University.
Priyanka is a 2020 graduate of DePaul’s College of Communication. After living in three countries and immersing herself in countless cultures, she’s developed a strong curiosity for the world and its people. As the child of Indian immigrants, Priyanka is interested in studying the complexities of culture and its significance in the diverse world. Priyanka currently resides in Los Angeles and works as a creative marketing director at a media startup.
Azucena "Ceni" De La Torre
Ceni serves as Ministry Coordinator of Retreats and Faith Formation for DePaul’s Division of Mission and Ministry. She double-majored in Communication and Media and Catholic Studies while an undergraduate at DePaul. She also holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Duke Divinity School and is a graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science.
David is an associate professor and director of DePaul’s Grace School of Applied Diplomacy. His work focuses on the relationship between diplomacy and religion, ecological ethics, and inter-religious engagement. He is the author of multiple scholarly articles and books, and his latest book project focuses on inter-convictional engagement in modern Paris. He holds a doctorate in Christian Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
After careful consideration and ample deliberation, the TEDxDePaulUniversity selection committee chose nine speakers who will give talks centered on the theme “Fast Forward.”
Amiwala is a Chicago native, activist and a junior in the Driehaus College of Business. At the age of 19, she announced her candidacy for the Cook County Board of Commissioners to serve as a voice for her generation and marginalized communities. She was the youngest person and first Muslim woman to ever run for the seat. Although she ultimately lost the election, her campaign saw historical voter turnout and was covered nationally. She was recently named Glamour Magazine’s College Woman of the Year for 2018 and Seventeen Magazine’s Voice of the Year. Watch >>
Confer is an entrepreneur, business leader and consultant possessing more than 30 years of experience in delivering strategy, enterprise architecture and security advisory services to clients in healthcare, financial services, film and entertainment, and manufacturing. He is a versatile and experienced ‘imagineer’ with a track record of success building organizational consensus and facilitating strategic change. Confer is the founder of Outrageous Innovation Inc. and an adjunct faculty member in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. Watch >>
In 2015, Ferrill challenged herself to give up plastic over concern about how the material harms our environment. Any piece of plastic that she could not avoid, she would keep. For a year, as she struggled to live plastic-free, she documented her experiences in a blog called dumpingplastic.com. The idea was sparked during a first-year writing class she taught at DePaul. Today, Ferrill is the assistant director of graduate programs and department operations in DePaul’s Department of English. Previously, she worked as a grant writer in Chicago and for a nonprofit in Honduras. Watch >>
Fort graduated in 2016 from Wheaton College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative philosophy communication. Following graduation, Fort spent two years at Brandtrust using applied social sciences to solve business challenges. Now, he is a graduate student studying computer science in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media and tackling social issues via nonprofits, including his own social enterprise Zeal Inspirational Philanthropy (ZIP). When he’s not working, Fort can be found exploring Chicago with friends, spending time with family, and diving into the latest superhero series. Watch >>
Fredrickson is a DePaul School of Music alumna (‘13) and the executive director of Chicago Arts and Music Project (CAMP), an El Sistema orchestra program serving the Garfield Park area. She founded CAMP in 2017, aspiring to foster musical excellence and social activism. Her career in El Sistema, which seeks to provide free classical music education to underserved communities, began when she was an intern at ROCmusic in Rochester, New York, before moving to Chicago and working for Sistema Ravinia. She completed a fellowship with the Global Leaders Program in 2018 in Honduras, where she studied with leaders in the field. Watch >>
Amanda Blair MacDonald
MacDonald has spent her career studying and teaching about the connections between movement and the brain. She explores why we behave the way we do and how we can consciously choose our direction in life in a variety of areas, including developmental movement, thinking in movement and the relationship of movement to decision making. MacDonald is an adjunct faculty member in The Theatre School and an AmSAT certified Alexander Technique Teacher, as well as a registered Movement Pattern Analyst. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and a bachelor’s degree from Sewanee: The University of the South. Watch >>
In 2011, Mahou was a human rights activist and a key leader in the civil uprising against Syria’s brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Because of his beliefs, in June of that same year, Mahou was detained and tortured for three months. When he was released, he fled Syria and found asylum in Chicago in 2012. Today, Mahou is a staff member at DePaul and a proud American citizen. As a result of his experiences, and passion for democracy and freedom, he finds himself even more grateful to participate in everything the American democracy has to offer, including the recent U.S. midterm election, which sparked the idea for his talk. Watch >>
Montague is an associate professor of human computer interaction, bioinformatics and collaborative technologies in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. She also is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Wellness and Health Enhancement Engineering Laboratory. Her research uses human factors and human-computer interaction methodologies, design principles and theories to understand healthcare systems to promote safety and patient-centered care. Currently, Montague is exploring the role of trust between people and technology in healthcare work systems and designing new and effective health-related technologies. Montague received master’s degree and doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech.
Taylor is a self-described influencer, educator, youth mentor and friend. He received his bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Tennessee State University in 2015 and received his barber certificate from Larry’s Barber College in 2017. In 2018, Taylor enrolled in DePaul’s graduate program and he is currently seeking his master’s degree in nonprofit management. Taylor strives to utilize his multifaceted education, involvement in radio and his experience as a youth mentor to create opportunities for generations to come. Watch >>
Under the theme "Reimagine," 11 diverse presenters gave nine talks on topics ranging from marginalized communities in Chicago to unconditional self-worth and forgiveness in the wake of an attack.
"Reimagine Failure: Breath, Belong, Believe."
After traveling the world, studying yoga and diving into academia to find more meaning in life, Biagi found fulfillment by searching within herself. She takes us on her path to discovery and gives tools we can use in our own times of distress in her talk: "Reimagine Failure: Breath, Belong, Believe." Watch>>
"Collaborative Listening: Rethinking Your Connection to Music"
Brinkmann is an innovative flutist and a 2011 DePaul School of Music alumnus on a mission to find creative ways to engage audiences with music. He unites his passions for teaching and performing by creating interactive performances that strengthen the music experience for the listener. He discusses his master plan in his talk: "Collaborative Listening: Rethinking Your Connection to Music." Watch >>
While we are all the sum of our life experiences, not all of them come to us by choice. Butler, a 2010 alumna of DePaul's College of Communication, survived an acid attack and spent years recovering from it. No stranger to adversity, she's managed to turn her trauma into triumph through storytelling, reflection and empowerment, which she discusses in her talk: "Reimagine Forgiveness." Watch>>
"Cultivating Unconditional Self-Worth"
When a person demands perfection of herself or himself, anything less can feel like failure. Gooden, a 2013 College of Science and Health graduate, knows this from experience. In addition to her work as a staff psychologist at the University of Chicago, she's learned in her own life how to break negative thought patterns and live more freely. She shares those lessons in her talk: "Cultivating Unconditional Self-Worth." Watch>>
Team Funny Business
Is the use of humor appropriate at work? Bartuch, Hendrix and Higgins think so. The students in DePaul University's Doctorate in Business program reconsider the role of humor in the workplace in their talk: "Funny Business." Watch>>
"Reimagine Chicago: Power to the People"
Felisme is an MBA student with a passion for Chicago and an appreciation for what we can learn from the past. He sees a path for creating economic opportunities to benefit the communities around us. He shares his vision for his city in his talk: "Reimagine Chicago: Power to the People." Watch>>
Rev. Christopher Robinson
"Replacing Our Idols with Icons"
Most people "idolize" what they view as normal because it is a version of life they believe to be true, but what if someone told you there was a phone on the moon? If that is their version of the truth, who are you to say it's wrong? Could you meet somewhere in the middle or agree to disagree? For Fr. Robinson an experience he had before he became a priest provided the initial spark that led to his talk: "Replacing Our Idols with Icons." Watch>>
"Reimagining the Intellectual"
What image comes to your mind when you hear someone described as an intellectual? Did you think of the person sitting next to you in your last meeting or standing behind you at the grocery store? Well, why not? Spencer, a critical ethnic studies graduate student, challenges our ideas of how people earn the label intellectual with her talk: "Reimagining the Intellectual." Watch >>
Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco
"The Liberal Arts and the Making of T-Shaped People"
Vásquez de Velasco is a steadfast advocate of the liberal arts and for good reason. As dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, students emerge from his college's programs with a foundation that enables them to think, solve, lead and live. To inspire us to spread our own wings, he shares his personal journey and how he discovered the true power of a liberal arts education in his talk: "The Liberal Arts and the Making of T-Shaped People." Watch>>
For the second year in a row, TEDxDePaulUniversity inspired more than 130 attendees and provoked important conversation within the DePaul community through the theme "Courage to Connect” on April 18, 2017.
"The Art and Science of Suffering"
Through her work with torture survivors, combat veterans, bereaved parents and orphans, DiGangi has become intimately acquainted with the many faces of suffering. The DePaul alumna shares what she has learned about various forms of suffering and coping strategies in her talk, "The Art and Science of Suffering."
"The Power of Self-Connection"
Drawing on his lived experiences, Dixon aims to help others connect with the world around them through empathy, openness and conversation. The Career Center staff member discusses this in his talk: "The Power of Self-Connection." Watch >>
"Why We Need to Talk to Our Children about Race and Difference"
Lindsay-Ryan is an adjunct faculty member, trainer and consultant who is passionate about helping educators and parents navigate the difficult discussions with children, which she addresses in her talk "Why We Need to Talk to Our Children about Race and Difference." Watch >>
"Careening Out of Complacency"
Mueller grew up with three siblings who were adopted from Ethiopia, and understanding the communication patterns when discussing race, privilege, and the way it is talked about in America became imperative. The DePaul alumna shares what she has learned from her unique experiences in her talk: "Careening Out of Complacency." Watch >>
Kelly Richmond Pope
"Why Do We Hate Whistle-Blowers?"
Pope is an accounting professor turned documentary filmmaker who teaches accounting through the lens of fraud and film. In her talk, "Why Do We Hate Whistle-Blowers?" she touches on the lessons learned from some of the nation's most high-profile whistle-blowing cases. Watch >>
"I Grew up in Poverty. Here's Why I Recognize My White Privilege"
As a child, Rietz saw first-hand what it was like for children of all backgrounds in the foster care system. Deeply affected by the experience, it has shaped how he sees the world today, which he discusses in his talk: "I Grew up in Poverty. Here's Why I Recognize My White Privilege." Watch >>
"Why Game Designers Are Better Lovers"
Rusch's work as a faculty member is focused on the theory and practice of creating games that model the "human experience" and focus on mental health issues. Her expertise as a game designer opened her eyes to a new theory, which she discusses in her talk titled, "Why Game Designers Are Better Lovers." Watch >>
"Courage to Disconnectring"
In her talk "Courage to Disconnect," Pride - who is also a student at DePaul - emphasizes the impact we can have on our community if we simply take a break from our phones to serve those around us, especially those less fortunate.
"Connecting Young Minorities to Their Future Selves"
As a young college student, adjunct faculty member Thompson faced academic challenges and fought to find his direction until an internship on the floor of Chicago Board Options Exchange changed everything. His experience there launched into a finance career in conjunction with his entrepreneurial pursuits, which he discusses in his talk: "Connecting Young Minorities to Their Future Selves."
"A Story of Hope from the Syrian Civil War"
Shaker is a graduate student and an accomplished Syrian violinist who escaped the war in Syria after receiving a music scholarship to Monmouth College in 2013. Unable to return back home, she applied for asylum in the United States. Through it all, her passion is to deliver a message of peace and love through music, which she demonstrates in her talk and performance, "Healing Through Music: A Story of Hope from the Syrian Civil War." Watch >>
With topics ranging from gentrification and refugees to battling homelessness and campaigning for nonviolence, speakers shared their personal stories and expertise through the theme, "What Must Be Done?" at TEDxDePaulUniversity on April 29, 2016.
What does a world without violence look like? Butigan discusses this increasingly important question in his TEDxDePaulUniversity talk, "Mainstreaming Nonviolence." Watch >>
"Gentrification is not Inevitable: Care and Resistance"
As a lover of cities, Curran's work has focused on understanding the effects of gentrification on urban landscapes. She discusses her work and personal experiences with gentrification in her TEDxDePaulUniversity presentation, "Gentrification is not Inevitable: Care and Resistance." Watch >>
Fr. Edward Udovic
"What Must be Done? Then and Now"
As a church historian specializing in the history of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), Udovic takes a deeper look at TEDxDePaulUniversity's theme in his talk, "What Must be Done? Then and Now."
"The Multitudes of a Single Muslim Identity"
In her talk, "The Multitudes of a Single Muslim Identity," Khan discusses her decision to wear a headscarf, her decision to stop wearing a headscarf, and stereotypes she faces as a young Muslim woman in America today. Watch >>
"In Cities I'd Never Lived?"
Martinez has spent her undergraduate career at DePaul University researching comparative international educational practices in hopes of one day making education a global human right, which she discusses in her talk: "In Cities I'd Never Lived." Watch >>
"Massaging Life into a Wooden Leg"
Is it possible to end global homelessness or make the impossible possible? McGreevy tackles these questions in his talk: "Massaging Life into a Wooden Leg."
Derise Tolliver Atta
"Refugees with Benefits"
As the daughter of refugees, Sharma knows first-hand how much refugees have to offer the cities and countries in which they settle. In her talk, "Refugees with Benefits," she discusses her family's experiences and the "gifts," "skills" and "education" they can bring to a local economy. Watch >>
"I did my Best: Overcoming the Pursuit of Praise"
Presbitero was only 16 years old when she began her college career at DePaul University. In her TEDxDePaulUniversity presentation, "I did my Best: Overcoming the Pursuit of Praise," she discusses what life is like "without medals" and discovering her own identity. Watch >>
"Can You Cry For Me? Will You Cry With Me?"
Griggs is a passionate writer who seeks to help individuals who are marginalized understand that they don't have to define themselves by someone else's limited vision of them. She also encourages courageous and honest dialogue among individuals, which she challenges in her talk: "Can You Cry For Me? Will You Cry With Me?" Watch >>
"The Secret Life of a Work-Life Insider"
In her presentation, "The Secret Life of a Work-Life Insider," Westring shares her personal journey to find the right work-life balance, and how it has influenced her research on women's careers and creating work cultures conducive to the success of women in medicine. Watch >>