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MSU Denver President Davidson speaks at TEDx MSU Denver

TEDxMSUDenver rises to the occasion

As the pandemic continues to challenge us in unimaginable ways, these TEDx talks highlight the resilience of the human spirit.

September 23, 2021

By Cory Phare

Big ideas returned to the King Center stage this month as TEDxMSUDenver hosted 15 sessions focused on resilience, reflection and inspiration.

The event’s theme, “Ready to Rise,” was fitting after more than a year and a half of pandemic-related disruption: illness and death, shutdowns, event cancellations and remote working and learning. TEDxMSUDenver last hosted speakers on the Auraria Campus in 2019.

In opening remarks, President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., reminded the masked crowd that despite the unprecedented challenges, resilience is carrying the day, just as it has in the past. The event, she noted, was taking place on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

“We learned about the darkest dark and lightest light of humanity that day (on 9/11),” Davidson said. “And it carries on in our doctors, nurses, first responders, along with teachers and staff at MSU Denver.

“Today, we’ll see that resilience on stage thanks to our Roadrunner community.”

Identity shift: Be who you are, not what you do

“‘What do you do?’ That question communicates so much, including evaluation and judgment. … It says a lot, whether we like it or not.”

– Eric James, Ph.D., MSU Denver associate professor of Communication Studies

The illusion of inclusion for an individual

“Inclusion doesn’t begin with others; it begins with yourself … and everyone has that little light inside of them. ... In the end, you gotta make your light come alive.”

– Alexander Sherman, MSU Denver English senior


I'm not an alien

“What do we do when we can’t sympathize with others? We put up a wall. … And when we put up a wall, we stop making the effort to sympathize.”

– Svetlana Mikhaylova, MSU Denver Management senior and previously undocumented Russian immigrant


RELATED: UndocuHub centralizes critical resources for Colorado's undocumented and immigrant populations

In the spirit of the Corn Mothers: Celebrating the stories of women

“Stories of the Corn Mother aren’t to make you angry or bitter; (they are) to teach you empathy for others different from you. … (They say) ‘Everyone is my child; everyone, we will work together to survive.’”

– Renee Fajardo, J.D., Journey Through Our Heritage coordinator in the MSU Denver Department of Chicano/a Studies and creator/curator of the Return of the Corn Mothers story-preservation project 

RELATED: Catching up with 'Sabrina & Corina' author Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Anthropology, our imagination, and how to understand the difference

“Diversity is the greatest tool humans have – just look at times of our greatest advancements. We need to blend our imaginations to build better and more interesting universes.”

– Michael Kilman, MSU Denver affiliate professor of Anthropology

Tapping into your capacity to make a difference

“I’m not a hero. I’m not a savior. I’m just a guy who went to New Orleans (to help out after Hurricane Katrina). … Here’s my call to you: We can all do something.”

– Andrew Hudson, community member, founder and president of Andrew Hudson's Jobs List


Normalizing disability begins in school

“As the saying goes, ‘Nothing about me without me.’ Why is inclusion an exclusive idea?"

– Joseph Schneiderwind, MSU Denver alumnus, Rock Canyon High School math teacher


RELATED: This teacher is dedicated to opening STEM to students with disabilities

Playing off the page: Education and leadership in the 21st Century

– Evan Mazunik, community member, music and improvisation coach


- X (Antwaun) Johnson, MSU Denver student

Check back soon for more TEDxMSUDenver videos, which will be published on this page. Can't get enough TEDx? Check out the big ideas from 2019 TEDxMSUDenver.

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