5Qs with TEDxNorthwesternU Organizer Nikita Ramanujam

    With around 100 applications submitted, Nikita Ramanujam, a SESP junior, will work with a newly chosen executive board to plan a daylong TEDx conference, which will be held on April 12.

    North by Northwestern spoke with Ramanujam to talk about her inspiration and visions for TEDxNorthwesternU 2014.

    What made you want to initiate the new and improved Ted Talks at Northwestern?

    TED Talks were always my way of keeping rounded. Northwestern already had a TED conference, but it was for a very specific theology. They invited speakers to speak at the conference, but it was invite only. So, unless you had anything that pertained to that topic, you couldn’t attend. I thought that was kind of strange and when reflecting back at my years at Northwestern, I always thought about how I would hear students who came up with great ideas and I didn’t think it was fair for them to be limited to just Northwestern. Their ideas were worth sharing and spreading. And this would be a great platform for their ideas to be spread and heard.

    What personally inspired you to organize the conference?

    When I was interning in Boston, every time I would get stuck on something or was feeling uninspired, I would watch TED Talks. It would always give me some inspiration. And then I noticed universities all over the country were having these types of conferences. That was the light bulb moment for me. If these colleges are having them, why isn’t Northwestern doing it?  It was more of a realization that this needs to happen and that it’s time that Northwestern did a TEDx conference.

    Why did you choose the theme of “Crossing Paths”?

    I personally thought it would be unique to have a theme that utilized the x in TEDx. We thought it would be a nice little pun. Also, we realized that your Northwestern journey never necessarily ends and you’re constantly crossing paths with the people you meet. We’re going to do our best to highlight that with our speakers. We’re going to hopefully find ways for their talks to cross paths with each other. We want them to highlight how their talks have allowed them to cross paths or how they plan on crossing paths. It’s also a very broad theme. We wanted to let the applicants see the theme at their own discretion. We didn’t want to have anything that would really restrict them from applying.

    How do you see TEDx being implemented in the future?

    In terms of TEDx in the future, I hope this is something Northwestern carries on because I think this is a great way for students as well as faculty members and alumni to showcase what they are capable of doing. I often tell my friends that I am always impressed and amazed by the talent around us. If you go to any class and take a second to realize who is sitting next to you, you’re probably notice a valedictorian, a prodigy or a star athlete, basically incredible people. To take that mindset and transport it into one day of extraordinary talks, I think it’s amazing. I hope it’s something that happens in the future. After I graduate, I hope somebody carries on what we started. For now, we can do our best and put on a great first event and see how we do.

    How do you plan on advertising for the conference?

    None of this is clarified, but I’ve been thinking that once we announce our speakers, we will probably release their application videos. Throughout the next few months, we will have marketing supplements to get everyone pumped up. We have two people in charge of community relations that have been brainstorming great ways to engage the Northwestern community. We realize this event is going to be only daylong, but we want to do our best so that the spirit of TED is something that Northwestern really gets hooked on.


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