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Stories of a lifetime delivered at TEDx event

Junior Julia Wang shares her passion for labor organizing at the TEDx Trousdale event. (USC Photo/Lillian Insalata)

TEDx Trousdale challenged USC students to give the talk of their lives in 10 minutes or less in front of an audience of 100 of their peers.

“It’s a very student-centric event because, at least for me, the idea is that I have all these friends at different schools at USC — from genius filmmakers to rocket scientists,” said junior Jasmine McAllister, an economics/mathematics and neuroscience double major at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and one of the event’s organizers. “So that’s why I want to do this event: to create that opportunity for USC students to share that and learn from each other. It’s been really well-received.”

Started in 1984 as a technology, entertainment and design conference, TED has evolved into a nonprofit devoted to “ideas worth spreading” — through conferences, videos and more. In the same spirit, TEDx is a local, independently organized offshoot that gives communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate TED-like dialogue.

“Two years ago, there was another TEDx Trousdale similar to this that I attended at USC,” said Sarah Payne ’13, a USC Marshall School of Business graduate who helped organize this year’s event. “It was really pivotal in my USC career.”

At this year’s edition of TEDx Trousdale, seven undergraduates spread their worthwhile ideas about everything from deep space exploration to politicized art. Student speakers included Alex Wilson, Julia Wang, Nick Leonard, Tim Ellis, Brandon Wolfe, Richelle Gribble and Kiara Adams. In addition, student Grace Wong played guitar and members of USC Xpressions Dance Company gave a performance.

Wilson, a senior political science major at USC Dornsife, started off the day by telling the story of coming out to his little sister when he was 14 years old. He and his sister were sitting on the floor, sorting a jug of nickels and dimes into paper rolls that they could exchange for spending money.

“We were sitting there, just a brother and sister in a sea of unrolled coins, tear-soaked faces, and I felt like the richest person in the world,” Wilson said. “My talk today is about emotions and experiences and why we should treat them like currency or money.”

Leonard, a senior business administration major at USC Marshall, spoke from his own wealth of experience. Instead of studying abroad during his time at USC, he bought an around-the-world ticket and took a close-up look at the seafood industry. He concluded that the old adage “we are what we eat” also applies to fish.

“The most important thing of all is what these animals are being fed because that directly translates into you and your health,” he said. “We don’t want to be eating antibiotics more than we need to. This is going to create the outbreak of diseases in humans.”

Wang, a junior neuroscience major at USC Dornsife, shared one of her own richest moments — when Trojan apparel committed to being sweatshop-free. And Wang’s reflections on the experience had resonance well beyond labor organizing.

“No matter what it is that you want to change in the world, what truly matters is that you believe in your own voice,” she said. “Because at the end of the day, we understand that our actions will have this amazing impact on people all around the world, including our own lives.””

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