On Monday Nov. 3, the iconic TED logo was posted proudly on the second floor of Fulton Hall as Ted X Fulton Street began. The intimate event featured snacks, punch, and a handful of University students with inspiring talks, incredible talents, and interesting stories.
Ted X Fulton Street began with the humor and insight of ventriloquist Matt Bailey. Between doing a comedy bit with his slacker, sarcastic puppet, Bailey told his personal story of being involved in a craft that’s not particularly easy to find success in, especially if you wait for opportunities to come to you. The theme of his talk was to seize opportunity yourself, highlighted by his story of starting the first podcast for ventriloquists. And in the spirit of the act, his puppet ended the talk with a stinging insult to Matt, met with the loudest applause of the night.
The most valuable part of Ted X Fulton, was the range of topics covered, and the curating of those talks so that each new speaker was excitingly different from the last. Chris Thomas, a junior and transfer student, spoke about his work as an on-campus activist, and how there are opportunities for activist work within the University that we may not know about, such as the PaceU End Rape club, whose goal is particularly topical in light of many mishandled rape cases in colleges.
Jackie Cirello walked to the stage with the posture and confidence of a seasoned beauty pageant contestant for her talk on how pageantry is wrongly depicted in the media, and what the reality of pageantry is (that on-stage question everyone likes to focus on only counts for 5 percent of the actual score!). Ibby Hussein, senior and finance major, followed with a personal story about his roller-coaster ride of a Study Abroad experience, and how getting yourself to the Study Abroad office is often the hardest part of the process. Willie Wheeler and Vinnie Troiani went onstage together to talk about fraternities, and not in the way you often hear about them. Their talk stressed family, opportunity, and support in Greek life, and debunked negative tropes such as hazing in the University’s fraternities and sororities.
The night of insightful and interesting talks came to a close with Briana Vecchione’s story about how she found her unlikely passion for computer programming and research. In an interview conducted after her talk, Briana expounds on how she went from auditioning as an actress to coding: “My change in career direction came from the fact that I didn’t feel personally or academically fulfilled enough through the work that I was doing through the show business industry.” When faced with the decision of what path to pursue, she chose something more challenging: “I wanted to pursue a direction where I was able to make more of a tangible difference by combining both logic and creativity.” Briana’s talk concluded with a brief explanation of her research work with Microsoft Research, where she’s working on algorithms that could simulate a better flow of traffic within New York’s Bike Share Program (CitiBike). After Briana’s talk, a group picture with all the night’s speakers signaled the end of the show.
Not pictured above is the Fulton RA staff, whose hard work behind the scenes made the whole event possible. The Pace Press spoke with RA Elena after the show for some insight on how the event came together. “We wanted to inspire students through other students’ experience, and make it accessible” said Elena, proud of everybody’s contribution to the event. “We reserved space, made calls for proposals and got snacks.” The rest happened organically. Everybody stuck around for quite a while afterwards, eating candy, drinking punch, talking.
This article originally appeared in the November 13, 2014 edition of The Pace Press.