ELMHURST, Ill., March 1, 2023—After a sold-out inaugural event, TEDxElmhurstUniversity is back. The theme of this year’s event, to be held on Saturday, April 1, is FIRSTS, and will feature a diverse group of speakers  discussing topics ranging from autism to public art to slang and more.


This year’s speakers represent a cross section from the University and the greater community. They include:


  • Rajee Aerie ’07, an actor, model, product specialist and speaker. Her talk is about “How Love Can Transform Your Setback Into a Superpower.”
  • Rafael Blanco, M.F.A., a public artist and assistant professor of art at Elmhurst University. His topic is “Public Art as a Public Service.”
  • Gena Cox, Ph.D., an industrial and organizational psychologist. Her talk is “Skirting Career Quicksand: A ‘Yes … And’ Strategy.”
  • Liza Gabrek MPH ’23, a graduate student in the master of public health program at Elmhurst University. Her talk is titled “Second Firsts.”
  • William Hirstein, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy at Elmhurst University. His talk is titled “Is Human Consciousness Actually Private?”
  • Neeraja Kumar, a high school student whose talk is about “Walking the Path of Firsts Towards Adulthood.”
  • Marvin Malone MBA’23, creative project manager at NBCUniversal and an MBA candidate at Elmhurst University. His talk is about “Speaking to the Crowd.”
  • Lukas Munoz ’23, an economics and philosophy student at Elmhurst University. His talk is titled “A Dream Deferred.”
  • Morgan Ogunleye ’23, an Elmhurst University nursing student. Her talk is titled “The  Art of Unlearning.”
  • Felicia Shakespeare ’96, an educator, author and founder of A Purpose Driven Woman LLC. Her talk is “You Are Your Brand: Building From the Inside Out!”
  • Sarah Strom Kays ’90, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Media at Elmhurst University. Her talk is titled “Say What? Slang is More Than ‘Being Hip.’ ”
  • Angela Williams ’06, a school administrator, learning behavior specialist, and faculty director of Turning Pointe Autism Foundation. Her topic is “Fears, Failures and Firsts in Autism.”


TEDxElmhurstUniversity 2023 will be held on Saturday, April 1, beginning at 3:00 p.m. in the Mill Theatre (190 Prospect Ave., Elmhurst, elmhurst.edu/campusmap). General admission is $15 (with a two-ticket maximum due to limited seating), and tickets are available at elmhurst.edu/tedx. If demand permits, an on-campus livestream option will be available. For more information, email marketing@elmhurst.edu.


TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. More than 3,000 events are now held annually.


Last year’s TEDxElmhurstUniversity featured 14 talks whose videos have since garnered thousands of views on TED.com and YouTube. They also can be viewed at elmhurst.edu/TEDx.


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