TEDxCSU 2023 shows off community, personal growth


Collegian | File photo

The speakers of TEDxCSU stand on the stage with Emcee Kyle Oldham at the end of the TEDxCSU event March 5, 2022. The event was a chance for Colorado State University alumni and students alike to share their ideas from their experience in their careers.

DJ Vicente, Staff Reporter

Colorado State University, in collaboration and license with TED, recently held TEDxCSU 2023 March 25 at the Lory Student Center, with this year’s talks covering topics from veterinary health to the symbolism of superheroes.

The theme for TEDxCSU 2023 was the importance of growth. Five different speakers throughout the day aligned their presentations with the theme. Professor Coronda Ziegler, who acted as master of ceremonies for the event, spoke on the importance of TEDxCSU.


“I don’t know about you, but for me, finding ways to learn and reflect can sometimes be difficult,” Ziegler said. “These moments in which we’re together and we can learn and be a community with each other are precious.”

Throughout the day at the LSC Theatre, speakers from different backgrounds within the CSU community, as well as Fort Collins and Northern Colorado, shared their experiences and discoveries in finding solutions for different issues.

“In spite of the great plans society had for me, my goal is to show people if there isn’t a place for you, then perhaps it is your destiny to create one.” –Drew Hsu, professional artist and TEDxCSU speaker

Graduate student Samantha Johnson spoke about the importance of veterinary health access to rural parts of America in her talk, “Access to veterinary care in Alaska: Impacts on animal and human health.” As such, Johnson spoke about her experiences as a pet healthcare specialist in Bethel, Alaska, for Yup’ik native people.

A multitude of factors affect access to veterinary care, including geography, financial issues within marginalized communities and communication in the context of native people and “building trust in the face of a long history of negative consequences toward working with outsiders, including scientists,” Johnson said.

“Trips would not be possible without immense community support,” Johnson said. “Kids are always happy to help, too, with things like pulling the boat in, directing us through town and introducing their animals.”

Leslie Taylor, interim vice president of marketing and enrollment at Western Colorado University, spoke about the complexities and the limiting view of race and multiracial people within the United States in her talk, “When I check the boxes.”

Talking about her background and childhood being both white and of Native American descent, Taylor used the boxes denoting racial and ethnic categories of individuals on federal papers as a sign of the struggle in finding one’s own racial and ethnic identity.

“It’s identifying who I am, … a Native American woman who honors who she is, a result of the colonized and the colonizers, walking confidently through this world for her ancestors, the future and how I want to be remembered,” Taylor said.

Speaker Drew Hsu, a professional artist based in Fort Collins, came to TEDxCSU with his talk, “The Odyssey of Torchmouth,” speaking on his life experience of finding his way as a freelance artist with the message of allowing oneself to pursue one’s passion and “to grow and evolve.”

Coming into the creation of the Torchmouth persona, or “the flames of my rebellion” as Hsu put it, helped him create his own niche with his art throughout his life struggles.


“In spite of the great plans society had for me, my goal is to show people if there isn’t a place for you, then perhaps it is your destiny to create one,” Hsu said.

Jocelyn Hittle, associate vice chancellor for the CSU Spur campus and special projects, spoke about the importance of connecting the newer generations to issues prevalent in our world, primarily those focused on sustaining an ever-increasing human population in the future and the solution provided by CSU Spur.

Through CSU Spur, the younger generation is able to develop interests in fields integral to the future of humanity by taking the professional research and innovation previously inaccessible to the masses and putting it “on display for visitors, particularly young people,” Hittle said.

Kyle Oldham, director of workplace inclusion and talent management at CSU Housing and Dining Services, was the final speaker at TEDxCSU 2023 with his speech, “Mind, Body and Mutants.” He talked about the importance of comics, specifically the X-Men franchise, in the development of his own identity as well as his success in the face of adversity.

Oldham expressed the importance of finding your own identity, breaking away from the status quo that rewards you for aiming to conform to societal norms and his “growth as a human and a mutant.”

“What if we used our talents or our superpowers to work towards what the X-Men fight for, which is peaceful coexistence and seeing the humanity in each other?” Oldham said.

Alongside the talks in the LSC Theatre, an exhibition was held during the lunchtime intermission in the main ballroom involving multiple organizations in the community, from CSU Spur to the Fort Collins Creator Hub, showcasing community projects as well as engaging with TEDxCSU guests.

Reach DJ Vicente at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @DeejMako.