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TEDxCSU educates, inspires with diverse lineup of speakers

Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
City of Fort Collins Chief Sustainability Officer Jacob Castillo introduces three important aspects of a strong community at Colorado State University’s TEDxCSU event Nov. 4. “‘People, Planet, Prosperity’ is kind of the easy way to think of what we call the ‘triple bottom line’, which is focused on economic health, social sustainability and environmental services,” Castillo said. “It’s an easy way to remember that there are three really important components to building a thriving and enduring community.”

On Nov. 4, Colorado State University hosted its annual TEDx event in the Lory Student Center, where a diverse group of speakers and performers shared their knowledge and experiences with several topics surrounding this year’s theme: Endure.  

TEDx events are independently organized TED events put on by different institutions, designed to take on a more local angle and have a specific theme that the community can connect to. 


“(TEDxCSU is) about sharing knowledge, inspiration, innovation with attendees and participants,” said Jess Dyrdahl, assistant director for campus activities and lead planner for the event. 

Organizers aimed to choose a well-rounded lineup of speakers and performers to highlight students and community members who are part of marginalized communities. The goal was to create an inclusive space for people to share unique perspectives while also trying to make it relevant to a wider audience.

“There’s been a lot of focus on social justice and things like that, which is obviously a good thing,” lead student organizer Genesis Lacy said. “I think this year we definitely tried to focus a little bit more on STEM and finding people who are more connected to Fort Collins.”  

This year, six different speakers took the stage to present their perspectives and ideas. TEDxCSU provided students, professors and Fort Collins community members a platform to discuss what it means to endure. Each speaker interpreted this theme in different ways, from the way brains work to social justice movements abroad.  

Graduate student Chris Patrick discussed how the theme applies to his research surrounding multiple sclerosis and how he got involved in the event to spread his message further. 

“I felt (the theme) fit so perfectly for people with multiple sclerosis because it’s a disease that usually spans a long lifetime,” Patrick said. “I felt really compelled to offer up my services and just tell the story of people with MS but also give it a research twist because our goal was to kind of better their lives.” 

To graduate student Sheilla Addison, the theme applied to the lack of LGBTQIA+ rights in Ghana and how people can come together and make a difference worldwide.  

“It’s not happening just in Ghana, it’s even happening here in the U.S. look at Florida and Texas,” Addison said. “It’s not like a small country somewhere in Africa that’s going through this, but it’s a global issue as well.” 

In addition to the diversity and vast representation, another major aspect of TEDxCSU was how heavily involved students were in organizing the event. From handing out credentials to choosing speakers, CSU students had a say in how everything was handled with the event.


“Our student staff are really critical to this event’s success,” Dyrdahl said. “Our logo is ‘for students, by students’ for RamEvents, so we try to make TED to be no exception to that.”  

This year, organizers also made an effort to choose more student speakers than usual. By amplifying student voices, the event was geared toward students to contribute to creating a space where they feel welcome. 

“We’re trying to highlight more students because a majority of our audience is going to be students,” Lacy said. “We wanted people who are relatable.”

The master of ceremonies for the event, Andrew Magaña, emphasized the importance of TEDxCSU in terms of expanding ideas and building community. 

“It has been really great to see some old friends, see some folks I’ve worked with and then meet some new people who are doing incredible work,” Magaña said. “It’s fun to hear everyone’s expertise and hear about their backgrounds. There’s a lot of great shared knowledge, and it’s such a great way to build community.”

Reach Laila Shekarchian at or on Twitter @CSUCollegian

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