x= independently organized TED event

April 11th, 2014 TEDxUniversityofAkron

Event Speakers


Duane M. Abel
Jessica Ekstrom
During her junior year of college, Jess started her own company, Headbands of Hope, to help brighten the lives of children battling cancer. For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research. Jess works full-time as the CEO of the company, regularly visits hospitals around the country to deliver headbands to girls and visits campuses nationwide to share her story of how she turned a summer internship into an organization that changes the world. Jessica's Talk: Being aware of an issue isn’t enough. Awareness doesn’t equal change. Action does. I’m aware that 46 parents per day will be told their child has cancer, but I don’t just put a pin on my backpack and post about it on Facebook. You take action to make a change. Everything won’t be perfect; you’ll fail a lot. But when you fail or get rejected, you’re still laps ahead of people not even trying. So why not go for it?
Michael Honeck
Michael Honeck is an Associate Experience Designer at Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development where he helps design the tools, techniques, and technologies that bring the future of entertainment to Disney parks around the world. He graduated from The University of Akron with a BS in Accounting and minor in Mass Communication in 2009. While at UA, he was involved as a Buckingham Scholar, a member of Ztv's Akron After Hours, and Executive Director of the Akron Film Festival. In 2011, he graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Master of Entertainment Technology. Michael's work has appeared in the Disney parks, as well as part of SIGGRAPH Dailies!, the 5th Annual Conference on Human Robot Personal Relationships, ABC's Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, The 3 Rivers Film Festival, and The Cleveland Film Festival. Born in Uniontown, Ohio, he now lives in Glendale, California with his roommate and bicycle. Mike’s Talk: What does a degree in accounting, a paper on humanoid robotics, studying art in Italy, launching a non-profit, puppeteering, and sticking your hand deep inside of a live cow all have in common? Nothing! Well, nothing, that is, until Michael Honeck decided to discover the connections between these life experiences and then make them matter. One day, while unemployed with a very expensive degree nipping at his heels (and pride), Michael searched for a connection and a deeper meaning amongst all he had accomplished, finding common threads among these moments and transforming them from an incoherent assortment of activities to a compelling story about a guy who brings a valuable, unique perspective to leading teams and delivering a creative vision. As they say, luck favors the prepared, and armed with his newfound threads, Michael confidently stepped into Walt Disney Imagineering and tell the story of how accounting for jelly and knowing how to sample the rumen contents of a cow’s stomach made him the right guy for the job. Why not?
Joshua A. Katz
Joshua Katz is a high school math teacher in Orange County, FL. In his 7 years, he has worked with 9th – 12th grade students in Algebra and Algebra 2. He has been his school’s Math Teacher of the Year twice and a four-time finalist for Teacher of the Year. He serves on the Faculty Advisory Committee, the Student Placement Committee, and the PTSA. Before working in secondary education, Josh spent 8 years working in Higher Education as well as the non-profit world. He has his BS in Math Education and his MA in Higher Education from the University of Central Florida. His current passion is education reform and its impact on the economy. Josh's Talk: Missing The Mark
In the mid 1800’s, Horace Mann captured the potential impact of education on society. We have yet to realize the potential he saw, and in fact, we are missing the mark by a wider and wider margin. We have created a “Toxic Culture of Education” in our country that is damaging students, impacting our economy, and threatening our future. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, we have embraced a culture of high stakes testing and are perpetuating a false sense of failure in our schools. We have ignored research and data on effective policy making practices in order to serve the interest of private industries that have monetized our students. The impact is being felt in communities, on college campuses, and in our economy. The solution lies in a common sense approach to student development, curriculum choice, career exploration, and relevant data analysis. This talk will present a vision of an education system that allows us to embrace our full potential if we only had the courage to ask “Why Not”?
Eliza Williams
Eliza’s original adventure began in 1988 at Grant Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Shortly after her birth, Eliza's parents relocated to their hometown of Akron, Ohio and she has called this city home for most of her life. She attended Our Lady of the Elms where she now serves on the Board of Directors. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in English - Creative Writing with a minor is Studio Art in Central Ohio at Denison University. Upon graduating she moved back to Akron and continued where she began as a volunteer at ACCESS, a homeless shelter for women and children. She also coordinated a grassroots effort to create a community space for music and art called The Spot in downtown Akron. She immersed herself in the community, weaving herself into the fabric of this interesting place. When 2013 rolled around, Eliza rediscovered her desire to live in a third world country in order to gain a new perspective. The hunger for a perspective shift led her to Peru for 6 months where she began using her nonprofit skills to support a conservation effort called the Amazon Research and Conservation Center located in the southeastern Amazon jungle. Her most recent adventure to Peru and the experiences she had there helped her cement a belief she would like to share with the world. Eliza’s Talk:
We are all blessed beings with the ability to create our reality. Operating from the belief that the outside world is determined by internal factors, when we understand that perspective is a choice, we create the freedom to live the life we desire. There are many lies people tell themselves. “I am not good enough.” “My self-satisfaction is worth less than my children’s or my spouse’s.” We hear these statements escaping the lips of our own mouths and others. At the end of the day, if you change the story you tell yourself, your outside world will begin to reflect that inner voice. Eliza will share examples of how this practice has affected her reality. How buying a one-way ticket to Peru and staying for 6 months was the scariest and most gratifying decision she ever made. And how she plans to use what she learned there and throughout her life to tie everything back to a concept that will help us solve the issues we are facing as a species, a culture, and as individuals. The question really is…why not? What is keeping us from realizing our dreams?

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