The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Lessons in Leadership and “Ideas Worth Spreading”

Members of TEDxDartmouth's core organizing team, including Joseph Leonor '19, Heather Flokos '19, Arvind Suresh '19, Brenda Miao '19, Alice Hsu '19, and Josephine Kalshoven '19 (left to right).

Student speaker Valentina Garcia Gonzalez '19 gives a TEDx talk entitled "Contextualizing Illegality and Debunking Myths about Undocumented Immigrants".

Dartmouth Head Football Coach, Buddy Teevens, gives a TEDx talk on safety in college football.

TEDxDartmouth attendees listen to the first TEDx talk of the day.

Article Type 

TEDxDartmouth organized its first annual independently organized TED event. Arvind Suresh ‘19​ shares his organizing the conference. 

Growing up, watching TED talks inspired me and gave me the courage and bravery to think big, break the rules, and broaden my knowledge. When I first learned about the TEDx university program, I therefore felt strongly about organizing a TEDx event at Dartmouth as a way of bringing the liberal arts curriculum to life. Planning this event allowed me to delve deeper into subject areas I would not have previously considered ranging from how we define greatness in education to fashion design inspired by marine life to how networking has changed in the digital age. The success of any TEDx event is derived from the interplay of ideas as they bounce between the speakers and the audience, with everyone feeling like they have learned something new by the end of the day. It is this passion for sharing knowledge and “food for thought” that made organizing this event a fulfilling experience for all members of our organizing team.

The spirit of this year’s theme, “Paradigm Shift,” was shaped very much by the changes that constantly take place around us. We hoped that this theme would give our audience a way to connect with each speaker’s idea and encourage them to keep an open mind. We hoped to showcase the diversity of ideas at Dartmouth and beyond, giving people an opportunity to think about how they may take what they learned and use it to make the world a better place. Most importantly, however, our theme and this year’s speakers revealed that while there is no one correct viewpoint or paradigm, it is by challenging the status quo that we create ripples of change and paradigm shifts in society.

Organizing TEDxDartmouth over the past year has truly been a transformative experience, allowing me to build leadership skills, work with a committed team, and think about public speaking and presentations in a completely new light. Despite my worries and fears, I learned to think quickly on my feet, reconsider my approach to problem solving, and stay confident in the face of adversity. My own “paradigms” regarding community, communication, and compromise were shifted for the better, allowing me to be more proactive in anticipating the needs of others. Organizing a TEDx event also highlighted the strength of human connection and the value of compassion in leadership to engage and motivate others. In the spirit of TED’s mission, it is my sincere hope that the “ideas worth spreading” from TEDxDartmouth continue to create positive change at Dartmouth and beyond.

-Submitted by Arvind Suresh ‘19​, Rockefeller Center Mini Grant Recipient 

The Rockefeller Center's Mini-Grants program funds registration fees for students attending conferences, as well as the costs of bringing guest speakers to Dartmouth. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences