TEDx event gives students an open mic

A student speaks at TEDxGeorgiaTech’s open mic night. The event allows for students to be given a platform to express their thoughts to a wide audience. // Photo by Joe Johnson Student Publications

The Institute boasts one of the most innovative student bodies in the nation and the resolve to bettering the human condition through progress and service is deeply inundated into student-run organizations across campus. One such organization is TEDxGeorgiaTech, an independently organized TEDx affiliate run by student volunteers. Last week, the TEDxGeorgiaTech team were able to realize their vision of showcasing ideas from the Tech community to inspire change on campus and beyond through an open mic event. Open to students across campus, Open Mic Night featured sixteen performers and dozens of excited onlookers as they celebrated the hidden talents of Tech students and members of the metro-Atlanta community. From spoken word poetry to practices in meditation to comedy skits, the event served as a creative outlet for students to not only perform their pieces, but also show appreciation for multicultural art practices. When asked about the event and its turnout, Srujani Das, fourth-year BME and executive director of the campus chapter, emphasized that this semester’s Open Mic Night was a success. “We had such great talent from the campus and greater Atlanta community come out and perform. It was definitely a fun filled night with the audience who participated actively with the interactive performances, practiced yoga, listened to thought provoking slam poetry and sang along to songs of the performers,” said Das.

Echoing her sentiments, Julia Bush, third-year CompE and member of one of the organizing teams highlighted one of her favorite speakers of the event. “One of my favorite performers of the night was Ali Cumberledge and her poetry. She’s been a team member for three years, so seeing her on stage instead of organizing behind the scenes was super cool,” said Bush.

Organizing an independent TEDx event is no small feat; the campus organization has media, community, programming, speaker, finance, and production teams to ensure that events are well-organized and have the ability to cater to a large audience, especially those who are unfamiliar with the larger TED system.

To add to their accomplishments as an organization, TEDxGeorgiaTech was actively and safely organizing virtual events during the pandemic during the last two years: the Student Speaker Salon and the Women’s Speaker Salon. Das praised the student volunteers and added that the organization thrives off of encouraging and supporting ideas from all of the team members. “We welcome a diverse group of people within our organizing teams and try our best to foster a friendly environment, even while balancing the many factors that go into planning events such as the ones we organize. Our team is very open to new and creative ideas. In fact, that’s how Open Mic Night first started last semester,” said Das.

While the TEDxGeorgiaTech organizing teams innovated and persevered during the pandemic to continue spreading student ideas, they were unable to host their annual spring conference, which often highlights professional speakers from across the country due to safety concerns associated with the spread of COVID-19 at large scale events.

According to Das, the team plans to bring back their spring conference in full force this semester.

“This year we are also bringing back our annual professional conference on April 10, where we will have eight professional speakers, including Chris Klaus of Klaus Computing Building and Dr. Raj Pandya, an orthopedic surgeon making big strides in medical device innovation,” said Das.

“We would love it if the Georgia Tech and Atlanta community could come out and watch the professional speakers share their ‘ideas worth spreading’ on our platform,” said Das.

TEDxGeorgiaTech hosts events throughout the year with professional, faculty, and student speakers both speaking at and coming to attend the organizations salons.

Members of the Tech community can now buy tickets to the spring conference hosted by TEDxGeorgiaTech on their website, tedxgeorgiatech.com.