Hayley Ellman is a freshman from Atlanta with a dream to change the world. In high school, she became aware of TED, a global organization that hosts conferences to explore possibilities within Technology, Entertainment and Design. She made it a personal goal to attend a TED conference in order to generate ideas on how to influence the world through the latest innovations. This February, High Point sent Hayley to Palm Springs, Calif. to attend TEDActive, a shoot-off of the TED conferences geared toward young adults with the objective to educate and provide unprecedented networking opportunities. Hayley has shared her thoughts and experiences through the question and answer session below.
What is TED?
TED is an acronym that stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. However, it has expanded to become interdisciplinary. It is all about "ideas worth spreading." There are amazing speakers and entertainers that TED features including Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Ken Robinson, Malcolm Gladwell and Al Gore. At a later point in time, TED posts the speeches online for free viewing. These speeches are globally renowned. At the end of the conference, attendees, who are also there by invitation only, vote on a winner. The most important thing that a winner gets is one wish to change the world, and TED, with all its resources, helps to make it a reality.
How did you first become interested in TED?
I first heard about TED from someone I met serendipitously. We had been talking, and he felt that I should see it. I think that was during the winter of my first year of high school. If I am right, then it is a neat coincidence that I would decide to complete this project during the winter of this year (my first year of college). I had immediately been interested in TED because it matched so well with my beliefs and interests. I cannot wait to share my experience at TED to the person who first introduced it to me and the HPU community.
How has TED affected your life?
I can say with absolute certainty that TED affected my life even before I started organizing this project. I learned things from TED that are now so integrated into my life that it is hard to pick them out. TED helped me to realize fully the huge importance and impact of the arts. One speech taught me how to share my goals and ambitions with others and to always be open to their feedback about how to achieve those goals ( View Speech ). I had always heard that it is important to tell others your goals so that they can hold you accountable. What I discovered was that including the hard work you have to put in while telling others is a good way to stay excited, feel accountable and to stay level headed (as opposed to keeping the goals to yourself or just sharing them freely). I put this teaching into practice for the first time while working on this project goal. So far, I have been successful, but I still have a long way to go.
What made you decide to organize a TEDx event?
The thing about having an idea is that it is never just one eureka moment. There are little observations and ah-has along the way. For me it was going to Malcolm Gladwell and Sherry Turkle (who spoke on the HPU campus in the fall but will be speaking at her first TED conference this year) on the same night. It was hearing Dr. Qubein challenge us afterwards to make a list of anyone that we would like to hear speak on the HPU campus. It was thinking and talking about that challenge a lot. It was a friend on Facebook talking about her excitement for her school's TEDx. It was talking to Dr. Qubein about TED Conferences, and when he brought up that he'd like to have one here (which was on my mind too), then said to start researching it.
What impact do you hope bringing TED to HPU would have?
I want it to encourage collaboration and discussion between those with different perspectives, talents and interests in order to make some true innovation. I want it to motivate people to think bigger for their work towards positive change in the world. I hope it will stimulate intellectual conversation and creative thought. I hope it will inspire people to learn for pleasure.
You attended a TED event in California, could you tell us about that?
It was really a dream come true. If it had not been for High Point University and the caring people here, I definitely would not have this opportunity right now. I attended a TED Active in Palm Springs, CA from Feb. 27 to March 2. You can see my entire experience here. I met amazing people with incredible stories, thought about how I can contribute to the world, learned a lot and had a great time.
What are your plans for TED's future here?
In the future, I want to bring speakers here. In order to have a TEDx with more than a hundred attendees, the organizer must have attended an official TED conference, which is why I went to California this year. TEDx may even become an annual event, in which case I'll make plans for a long-term future.
HPU Student Shares her Experiences as the Youngest Member of TEDActive
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