School News
Registration still open for TEDxAustin College on Sept. 25
By Austin College
Sep 24, 2021
Print this page
Email this article
Sherman, Texas -- The annual TEDxAustin College will be presented Saturday, September 25, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. to noon in Ida Green Communication Center’s new Sally and Jim Nation Theatre. Though in-person seating is open only to Austin College students, faculty, staff, and special guests of the speakers, free online streaming is available to all others. 

Because limited attendance is necessary, the TED organization is allowing online streaming of the talks. To register for free online access, visit

Once registration is complete, registrants will receive confirmation and then be sent the livestream viewing link on Friday, September 24. Registration is open now through Thursday, September 23. Campus participants must also register at the online site. 

Campus attendees may enter the theatre from the north entrance, near Jonsson Fountain, at 8:30 a.m. Masks in protection of COVID must be worn at all times in all Austin College buildings. 

A TEDx event features short (up to 18 minute) talks. TedxAustinCollege, an independently organized event, licensed by TED, features six members of the Austin College community—two current students and four alumnae. The conference will include TED videos and the six talks, all under the theme of “Confluence.” 

Confluence, campus organizers say, is the coming together and merging of two rivers into one. “But it goes beyond just water,” said Austin College senior Marissa Graf of the Student Executive Planning Team. “It involves allowing oneself to naturally respond to change and create connections. Over time and space, we gradually draw together and deepen our connections with new people and ourselves through shared experiences and ideas.” 

Through TEDxAustinCollege the team believes those shared connections become something even deeper. “Even our own minds are separated into the left brain and the right brain, logic and creativity,” Graf said. “When these two parts naturally flow together, new and stronger ideas emerge. Broaden your mind to allow the joining and mingling of differing ideas.” 

Austin College President Steven P. O’Day will make opening remarks at the event. Kirk Everist, associate professor of theatre, will serve as master of ceremonies throughout the morning. 

Business partners for the 2021 Austin College event are Aramark, Cadence Studios, and Hilton Garden Inn. 

Speakers for the 2021 TEDxAustinCollege and their talk titles (with summaries) follow below: 

“Two Languages, Two Personalities?”

Senior Mariam Abeje of Murphy, Texas, grew up immersed in two languages and cultures, living in the United States and Ethiopia. She speaks both English and Amharic and has observed that she seems to have different personalities dependent upon the language she speaks. Others she has encountered with similar circumstances feel the same. She will share her own story and the insights she has gained from her cultural confluence. 

Behind the Mask: Autism in Women and Girls

Kate Kahle is a junior from Dallas, Texas, and an advocate for autism acceptance. As a woman with autism, she will talk about different behaviors displayed by gender and that female behaviors are not as readily associated with autism. Since autism being diagnosed at a younger age leads to a higher chance of that child receiving evidence-based treatment, Kahle  wants to encourage more research be done so symptoms in women and girls can be more easily and accurately diagnosed in the future.  

Time and Space: Arts’ Most Valuable Resources

Laura J. Lawson is from Dallas, Texas, and graduated from Austin College in 2010, then earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from The University of Memphis. She was selected for the first cohort of studio artists at The Cedars Union art incubator in Dallas and was awarded a two-month residency at the Centre d’Art Marnay Art Center in Marnay-sur-Seine, France. She is currently an artist, educator, and adjunct faculty for Austin College, Dallas College, and Tarrant County College. Lawson has learned that time and space are the two most valuable resources for creatives and believes the unstructured time to think and seek inspiration and an open and clear place to work are vital. Her idea is based in her own studio art practice, but says its application encompasses all forms of creativity and problem-solving. 

Building Consensus Across Differences

Ann Crews Melton is from Longview, Texas, and a 2003 graduate of Austin College. She is now the executive director of Consensus Council, a nonprofit based in Bismarck, North Dakota. She has served as an advocate or editor at organizations across the country, including the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Louisville, Temple Israel of Boston, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. Her talk will be about the process of building consensus and how a diverse, multipartisan society can begin to solve problems. 

Bound Feet and the American Dream: A Lesson Through Perception, Value, and Courage

Ting Lan Sun graduated from Austin College in 1987, then earned a master’s degree in education from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in education from the University of California at Davis. She has been educational programs consultant in the California Department of Education. Sun lives in Sacramento and is a member of the California State Board of Education. Her talk will address how perception, value, and courage are meaningful in the process of assimilation and in becoming one’s authentic self. 

Tallgrass Prairie and the Power of “Perenniality”

Kelly Yarbrough graduated from Austin College in 2009 and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Kansas State University in 2016. She is the founder of the Tallgrass Artist Residency and a regional representative of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. Yarbrough says that the prairie is entirely under-appreciated for its model of how to live well in community with others. Connecting the dots between art, agriculture, ecology and interpersonal problem-solving, the Manhattan, Kansas, resident shares examples of what the prairie can teach society. 

Business partners for the 2021 Austin College event are Aramark, Cadence Studios, and Hilton Garden Inn.  

The Student Executive Planning Team is involved in all aspects of planning, preparing, and executing the conference. Heidi Rushing, Austin College associate director of marketing and public affairs, oversees the team on behalf of Institutional Marketing and Communications. Team members are Ryann Ashlock ’23, Nick Estes ’24, Grant Garrison ’22, Marissa Graf ’22, Josue Gonzalez ’24, Lily Harris ’22–lead intern for TEDxAustinCollege, Carrie Johnson ’24, Jade Kemp ’22, Jacob Moreno ’22, Claudia Theriot ’22, and Maddie Wilson ’23.  

Millions of viewers worldwide have seen videos of the annual TED Conferences, where the globe’s leading thinkers and doers have been invited to speak for 18 minutes on a diverse mix of “ideas worth spreading.” Launched in 2009, TEDx brings a TED-like experience to local venues. Some of the best talks from TEDx events have been featured on and garnered millions of views from audiences across the globe. The talks of Austin College speakers from past conferences can be found on the TEDx YouTube channel. 

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, global awareness, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and an expert faculty of more than 100 educators allow a 12:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. Related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Austin College cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. The College, founded in 1849, is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.