TEDx event sells out at USD


Months of hard work and organization finally came to fruition for senior Madeline Ball and the rest of her TEDx University of San Diego team last Wednesday. The nonprofit organization TED has been putting on conferences for over 25 years now and granted licensing for TEDx, one of its  independently organized TED event, to be put on at USD last July. Since the granting of the license, Ball and her team have worked diligently to host the event at USD.

At first, Ball was not sure how students and faculty would react to the event being hosted on campus. However, Ball quickly received support from the university.

“I’ve been shocked at the amount the school has been helpful,” Ball said.

But, shortly after announcing that USD would be hosting a TEDx conference, Ball was swarmed with requests not only from USD, but the local community. Local schools such as San Diego Mesa College and San Diego Miramar College contacted Ball to try to arrange tickets for the event.

“I wanted to extend it to San Diego, and make it as inclusive as possible,” Ball said. “Mesa and Miramar emailed me about buying blocks of tickets for their students, but we didn’t have enough seats in the theatre.”

Ball could not provide tickets to outside universities, but 100 of the 300 tickets for the event were offered online. Tickets both online and at the university box office sold out almost immediately, leaving hundreds of students and community members frustrated.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a line outside of that box office, and it was great to see,” Ball said. “Initially we did not think the event would sell out, and the theatre was booked very far in advance. I definitely didn’t anticipate selling out the theatre.”

Despite the many students who were frustrated to not get tickets, the lucky few were treated to an intimate event in the 300 seat Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice Theatre. The event hosted four separate speakers from many disciplines.

Ball worked hard to find a diverse range of speakers looking not only into USD’s community, but nationally. The first speaker Ball obtained was Scott Ripley, the chair of the theatre department, whose passion and enthusiasm easily convinced Ball that he should be up on stage.

“When we first met it was amazing,” Ball said. “If I could have filmed him when we first met, that would’ve been good enough for a TED talk.”

Ball then obtained Jamie Quinet, who works with USD’s women’s center. Quinet spoke about the sex trafficking industry not only around the United States, but right here in San Diego.

The most notable speaker of the event was U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan, who has played on multiple world cup teams as well is in some of the top soccer leagues around the world. Donovan was a late add to the event roster. Just weeks before, Donovan had been fighting to advance in the Major League Soccer playoffs with his Los Angeles Galaxy team, before being eliminated, allowing him to speak at the event.

Senior Katie Quinn was impressed by Donovan’s presentation and thought the message really related with a lot of students.

“I was pleasantly surprised by Donovan,” Quinn said. “He was a great speaker. I had always only thought of him in terms of soccer, but he proved himself to be a complex, multifarious individual who ironically struggled with identity because he also only thought of himself as an athlete. The theme of identity is particularly salient as a graduating senior watching his presentation. Is your job what identifies you? How do you realize/accept you’re more?”

Donovan’s powerful presentation on his career and compassion wooed the crowd, but the star of the night was Jeremy Poincenot. Poincenot, a motivational speaker and golfer, left the crowd stunned in amazement as he shared his story of how he struggled after losing his sight to a rare disease in college. Poincenot overcame those struggles to eventually win the blind golf world championships, and he shared his moving accomplishment in dramatic fashion to the entire audience.

dsc_0120Senior Jordan Latchford thought bringing in big names like Donovan and Poincenot really helped drive home the message of the event.

“Having celebrities like Landon Donovan and Jeremy Poincenot really put in perspective that everyone in life faces struggles, and it definitely humanized them,” Latchford said. “I really liked how it got me thinking.”

The event did have its problems, however. At several moments, it was hard to hear the speakers due to the audio quality, and many seats were left open despite the initial sellout, likely due to students who got tickets and could not attend. But, despite the minor hiccups of this brand new event, students and attendees had a great time.

“I thought it was a great way to spread ideas about topics to the USD community,” Latchford said.  “These are all conversations we think about, failure, human trafficking, good/bad, and independence, and the talk served as a platform to get people talking. I think the variety of topics discussed really made the event exciting and entertaining as well.”

Ball hopes that USD can continue the TEDx tradition despite her entire team all graduating this year. Ball told the crowd she was looking for someone to hopefully take over the organization, to continue TEDx USD annually.

Written by Kevin Nelson, News Editor