“Momentum” was the theme at Nebraska Innovation Campus last month, when the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s research and development campus hosted 400-plus guests for TEDxLincolnWomen 2015. The event, an independently organized version of the highly popular TED talks that was recently highlighted as one of 10 top TEDxWomen events around the globe, featured local speakers on the topic of the power of women to enact change.
This year’s sold-out program, the second annual TEDxLincolnWomen, included talks from former University of Nebraska Medical Center Student Regent and M.D./Ph.D. student Krupa Savalia, Lincoln City Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird, Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light Executive Director Kim Morrow, and Prairie Schooner managing editor Ashley Strosnider. The University of Nebraska and Nebraska Innovation Campus were presenting sponsors; additional sponsors included the MBA program at UNL’s College of Business Administration and RISE Lincoln.
NU President Hank Bounds offered welcoming remarks.
The event’s focus on momentum “certainly comes at a good time for Nebraska, the university and Lincoln. I truly believe the best days for the university and state are ahead of us – and I’m excited to be a part of an institution that’s helping to change the world,” Bounds said. “I’m looking forward to a future full of shared momentum for Lincoln and for the state.”
A particular focus on women’s opportunities to make an impact was timely and relevant. According to Forbes, women represent the largest market opportunity in the world. Globally, they control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending (U.S. dollars). Women are graduating with degrees at every level of higher education at an increasing rate, out-pacing men. And, 1 billion women participate in the global workforce, which will likely grow to 1.2 billion in the next five years.
TEDxLincolnWomen featured two NU students who represent women’s potential to effect change. Shelbi Bretz, the 2015 emcee and senior education major at UNL, was the youngest speaker at TEDxLincoln 2013. Her talk then focused on the importance of making connections, which continues to be a priority for Bretz.
“I’m not just a student, just a young person or just a future teacher. I have the opportunity to use the talents and skills I have at this point in time,” she said. ”My involvement with TED is a part of my life where I am recognized for what I can contribute right now.”
Savalia, who recently ended a 15-month term as UNMC’s student body president, stressed to attendees the importance of using and sharing their skills. Savalia said she viewed TEDxLincolnWomen as another opportunity to use her experiences as a student in science and medicine.
“One person or group’s momentum has the power to change how we think, approach problems, and implement change. However, the contagious nature of momentum can only be caught if we share our ideas,” Savalia said. “I’ve been trained as a scientist and am pursuing a career in medicine, so my perspective of what momentum is comes from a different angle.”
In her talk, Savalia used her scientific training to dissect people’s ability to construct such rigid hypotheses – in the lab and in life – that unexpected outcomes become detours.
Councilwoman Gaylor Baird showcased the link between physics and city planning, proving Lincoln’s recent development and expansion is no accidental boom.
Morrow, a faith-based climate activist, explored how to act both as a moral leader and respond to today’s environmental pressures by tackling climate change.
Strosnider drew on her writing and editing background to explain why it matters who decides what you’re reading.
In addition to the local speakers, attendees had the opportunity to tune in to the TEDWomen 2015 conference in California through a live-stream webcast. The California event featured women speaking about the potential for women to become global leaders. Speakers were: Linda Briceño, performing artist activist; Achenyo Idachaba, green entrepreneur; Rana el Kaliouby, emotion analytics expert; Christina Mercando, CEO; Robin Murphy, disaster roboticist; and Nonny de la Peña, virtual reality pioneer.