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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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TedxTAMU: Remember we must die

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TEDxTAMU 2021 will be hosted on March 14 and will feature a diverse group of speakers to spark conversations on campus. 

The lingering remnants of COVID-19, the ongoing strife of war in Ukraine and the daily challenges of being human, let alone a college student, are interwoven in the 2023 TedxTAMU theme “Memento Mori,” Latin for “remember that you must die.”

The TedxTAMU team holds annual conferences, each with a unique theme and overarching message to the Aggie community. This year, speakers of various backgrounds and diverse experiences came together in session one of TedxTAMU on March 5 to share their overwhelming renditions of the purpose of life and inspire an interconnected and empathetic human experience, while simultaneously highlighting the importance of resilience. 

Computer science sophomore and Executive Director of the TedxTAMU conference John Lehan said there are multiple phases necessary to make the conference possible, including the process of nominating speakers, creating a theme, rehearsals, the day-of conference logistics and organizational responsibility the team undertakes. 

“Memento Mori is a very interesting theme because the first time you hear it you might think of something dark, but I think the lessons that we have learned from that sort of theme, the history and the culture behind it are far more positive, it’s more of taking the opportunities you have in life when you have them because you never know when you will no longer have them,” Lehan said.

Lehan said he could see the potential impact the TedxTAMU conference could have on Aggies, as many of his staff are freshmen who have much to learn and plenty of opportunities before them.

“I think we are still coming off the heels of the global pandemic and that really awakened a lot of people to the fact that we don’t know what the future holds and so you can’t necessarily wait around to take opportunities and I think that impacted high school and college students to a special degree,” Lehan said.

Strategy Director of Unbound Now Europe and law student Allison Byrd was one of the speakers in session one of TedxTAMU, where she shared her experiences as a volunteer in Ukraine and Poland, as well as her desire to find the 99% of human trafficking victims that are never found. 

“There’s so many unknowns, questions of ‘Am I going to grad school and be successful and make a paycheck?’ And for me just doing the next thing in front of me with an eye to serve others is what helped me stay on the right track,” Byrd said. “I first heard about human trafficking when I was in middle school and for me, the next thing was to research and learn more about what was happening in our own country and government.”

Byrd said the pressures of being a student are numerous and hopes students will take this conference as an invitation to take a step, live differently and find encouragement. 

“I’ve been reading the numbers this week from the CDC about the levels of hopelessness and despair among women my age and a little bit younger, and I think ‘What’s behind that?’” Byrd said. “I think there’s so much pressure to self-actualize to become an influencer to become somebody, and if I could tell you anything, give your life away, and play a 20-year card of giving my life away for others knowing that great things will come from that.” 
Byrd said she recognizes the complexities of being a student and that this general understanding sets TedxTAMU apart from other motivational series or events on campus. 

“I love getting to meet the students. The only thing constant in life, and certainly in college, is that things change,” Byrd said. “So to sit down with students and hopefully be an encouragement to them means the world.”

Animal science freshman Erin MacLean heard about the event through the emails sent through A&M’s email list service and said she was drawn to the conference because of her love for Ted Talks.

“Something that I’m really interested in is the concept of self-actualization, so the concept of becoming your best self, and I knew that this topic Memento Mori would fit perfectly with that,” MacLean said. “I thought it would be perfect and that I should just show up and expand my mind.”
She did not realize the event would have multiple speakers and MacLean said it was something she enjoyed because they were able to share tidbits of their knowledge, which strengthened the diversity of the conference. 

“The theme was to live in the present and to make the most of every day … just being the best version of yourself, persevering and being your most authentic self even through times of extreme adversity,” MacLean said.

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