TEDxUSC 2018 aims to ‘Inspire’


USC hosted its sixth annual “TEDxUSC” Saturday. The event, sponsored by Undergraduate Student Government and the Academic Culture Assembly, took place on Saturday at Cammilleri Hall.

Jose Richard Aviles performed at TEDxUSC | Mahira Raihan | Daily Trojan

The lineup featured six student speakers, who shared personal experiences through storytelling. For the first time, the event was streamed on Facebook Live.

The event’s theme, “Inspire,” was woven into each of the student’s speeches. Shane Shahrestani, a second-year Ph. D. student in the USC-Caltech M. D. /Ph. D. program, kicked off the event with his talk “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Health Disparities.”

During the talk, he said that he created the app “Thumps,” after realizing the lack of medical accessibility in the world. The app allows users to see a visual representation of their heartbeat and learn their exact beats per minute by using their iPhone as a heart biosensor.

USC graduate student Imani Johnson followed with a talk titled “A $10,000 Lesson.” She discussed the importance of teaching financial literacy in communities of color. Then, Keon Sanaie, a freshman majoring in business administration and political science, spoke about his personal experience of living with Tourette’s Syndrome in his talk, “Creation through Criticism.”

“I think there are a few issues that haven’t been fully explored,” Sanaie said. “TED provides this incredible platform by which these issues can be conveyed to a larger audience.”

After an intermission, Nicole Ricken, a sophomore majoring in psychology, performed an original song dedicated to children with cancer.

Ailish Ullmann, a senior majoring in environmental science and health, gave a talk called “What’s missing from great science? Great storytelling,” sharing an anecdote of trying to convince her father of the existence of climate change.

“It’s not enough for us to collect data and crunch numbers anymore,” Ullmann said. “As scientists, especially those with any stake in the health of the planet, we must be great storytellers.”

USC graduate student Adrian Herrera gave a talk called “The Role of a Wingman” on his experience as a gay man in a military fighter jet squad. USC graduate student Jose Richard Aviles spoke about how he came to a realization about his sexual orientation through dance in “La historia de mi cuerpo. Dance as Body History.”

The planning committee for this year’s event started coordinating the program last October. After receiving a high volume of applications, the committee narrowed the speakers down to six speakers.

“Inspiring people doesn’t stop at personal stories,” said Winny Huang, the executive director of TEDxUSC. “If anything, that’s where it begins.”