Students, faculty, staff and community share words of wisdom at KU Edwards Campus TEDx event
On Nov. 5, over 160 participants tuned in via Zoom for the KU Edwards Campus’ inaugural TEDx event. TEDx, a grassroots initiative of the world-renowned TED conference, allows individuals in communities around the world to independently organize locally based speaking events, following the format and curation guidelines provided by TED. Over 3,000 TEDx events are held annually in locations across the globe. Presenters share ideas, related to a specific theme, that cover the worlds of technology, entertainment and design, as well as science, philosophy, business and more.
The theme for the Edwards Campus event was “introspection,” and the evening of presentations included a diverse group of speakers, including current KUEC students, faculty and staff, and Kansas City-area leaders and entrepreneurs, including former Kansas City Mayor Sly James.
Stuart Day, dean of the KU Edwards Campus and KU School of Professional Studies, said the event included many valuable takeaways.
“We hope you leave tonight with some tools and stories that inspire you to reflect on your own gifts and talents,” Day told the audience. “I feel so fortunate every day to work with a group of professionals who are driven to connect students, faculty, staff and the community through education.”
Crystle Lampitt, a third-year Master of Social Work student at the Edwards Campus pursuing a concentration in clinical therapy social work, began the event with a talk titled “Sad, Sick and Stuck: Rethinking Mental Health.” Lampitt’s talk covered her experience of burnout and growing understanding of trauma after more than a decade working as the host of a morning TV show, sideline reporter, model, producer, videographer and editor.
After being diagnosed with chronic illness, Lampitt began shifting her professional focus to help her healing, a journey which included going back to school to pursue a career in mental health.
“We have to start listening to the wisdom in our bodies, and get curious about our needs, starting with one of our most basic needs, which is safety,” Lampitt said during her presentation. “When we create safety, we can support the ideal environment that’s going to encourage recovery and change to occur naturally.”
Mental wellness was also the subject of Edwards Campus Psychology Program Director Alex Williams’ talk “Why Introspection is the Key to Good Therapy,” in which he discussed the value of open dialogue between therapists and patients to set goals and determine effective forms of treatment for their individual needs.
“If you’re somebody out there receiving therapy, or thinking about therapy, and you want to make sure that introspection is being used well, you can ask your therapist two questions: How will we know therapy is working, and what will we do if it isn’t?” Williams said. “A good answer will not simply be the therapist saying ‘I’ll tell you these things.’ A good answer will involve introspecting and reflecting, these introspections and reflections being tracked, and the therapist and patient deciding together on the directions they want therapy to go.”
Early in his career, Bergmann said, he was constantly looking toward his professional finish line, without recognizing the importance of where he was, and the people around him. “I wasn’t striving toward my dream. I was living it. I just didn’t realize it,” Bergmann said. His talk explored the importance of work-life balance and introspective presence, learning to appreciate where you are now, in light of your long-term goals.
“What I’ve learned is, I am indeed proud of my work and what I’ve accomplished, but not because of the things that come when you reach the finish line. It was because of the journey itself,” Bergmann said. “I walk in the direction of the finish line, but my new outlook on life is the finish line is the walk.”
Sanam Bezanson, a nontraditional student at KUEC currently earning her Bachelor of Exercise Science in Exercise Physiology, also spoke about work-life balance in her talk “Living Between Your Vices.” Bezanson plans to continue her education at medical school this fall.
“It’s moments of reflections and silence that cause us to pause. These audits can be internally stimulated by past goals and desires that haven’t been met, or they can be external circumstances, like trauma or a pandemic that force that shift in momentum,” Bezanson said. “These reflections can be integral to our success and happiness if they’re bridled by action steps, so that once that pause button is released, you don’t just return to the same story.”
Christopher Villarreal, an Ed.D. student in Educational Administration at the Edwards Campus, suggested that better balance can be achieved through a more organized physical and mental workspace in his talk “Decluttering Your Space to Declutter Your Mind.”
“At this exact moment, everything that you can see in front of you and peripherally is taking up space in your brain,” Villarreal said. “More than that, it’s competing for your attention.”
Villarreal suggested beginning the often-daunting process of decluttering by considering the practical value and importance of what we keep in our spaces, and what we give our mental attention to.
“Recognizing your obligations and priorities requires introspection on your part; one, to determine if something is an obligation, a priority or maybe both, and two, to determine what needs to be done first,” Villarreal said.
Other talks discussed introspection in terms of spreading diversity, awareness and social responsibility. Two talks addressed the subject of hearing loss and Deaf identity from differing perspectives. In her talk “Deaf is the World’s Gain,” American Sign Language and Deaf studies (ASLD) professor Petra Horn-Marsh discussed the diverse nature of the Deaf community, and ways Deaf people have historically impacted the world at large.
“We as Deaf people have been on this earth over 10,000 years. There are over 400 types of Deaf genes. This is not new. And there is, I believe, a reason we’re here,” Horn-Marsh said. She cited individuals such as Wladislav Zeitlin, who developed technology that led to modern television, and George Veditz, who used film to preserve and nurture sign language in the early days of the medium, as two such Deaf people who have left a significant mark on history.
Anne Palmer, career development and internship program manager at the Edwards Campus, shared her history with progressive hearing loss as a singer in her talk “Finding a New Voice: A Singer’s Journey with Cochlear Implants.” Implants helped Palmer be able to maintain her identity as a singer and continue to coach others.
“My hope is that you won’t allow your talents to limit you,” Palmer said. “Look inward to expand your understanding of what you always thought was possible, and what defined you, because you are your own greatest teacher.”
Former Kansas City mayor Sly James’ talk “Refining the Self Through Service” reflected on lessons learned from a lifetime of service, and how thoughtful, service-based engagement in the community can help us understand local needs, and how best to address them.
“Government is often looked at as a place to solve social problems. Social problems are much more emotional, much more individual. Often, government is not well suited to do that,” James shared. “However, there are people who can work directly with individuals, directly with causes, be on the ground, engage with others in some way, and have direct impact on the lives of the people you engage with.”
Abby Olcese, KUEC marketing copywriter and professional film critic, addressed the importance of media literacy in her talk “Everyone’s a Critic: How Engaging Critically with Entertainment Can Make Us Better People.” Olcese discussed her experience as a film critic, how storytelling works on the brain, and how the process of critical thinking and media literacy can help viewers make informed decisions that, by extension, help them become informed citizens.
“Knowing how to ask important questions about the stories we’re given, who’s telling them and why, are crucial when it comes to making big decisions and interacting with others,” Olcese said. “When we start thinking like critics, we can actually improve not just our own lives, but the world.”
David Ochoa, executive director of the Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund, closed out the night with his talk “Finding Yourself in the Perseverance of Others.” Ochoa spoke about his family’s rich history and how their generations of support helped him support others in his community.
"I hope your own journeys of introspection lead to more than just reflection, that it leads to action, because the power to change lies within,” Ochoa told viewers, summing up an evening of inspiring lessons and ideas. “We need you."