This year’s TEDxMiddlebury Conference will be on Thursday, April 29th, 6:00pm – 9:00pm at Dana Auditorium. Due to the limited capacity, the TEDx will have two shows, here is the line-up:  

Show 1: 6:00 PM – 7:15 PM Show 2: 7:45 PM – 9:00 PM
Francoise Niyigena
Frank Ji
Erin Quinn
Janae Due 
Usman Ghani 
Omar Kawam

Ticket registration is open at go/tedxrsvp or Stream it live at go/tedxlive

Theme

The theme of our event this year is “Back to Baseline.” “Back to Baseline” is about taking a step back, re-evaluating, and allowing ourselves to reach further than we ever believed we could before. It is about removing ourselves from the chaos and finding the light in overlooked places. For many of us, this past year felt like a time of set back and a call to start from scratch. But, when we are presented with a struggle, how do we reset and build anew? Sometimes the brightest inspirations and the ability to see the world in its truest form can only be found when we let go and start over. 

 

Speaker Lineup

Francoise Niyigena

My name is Francoise Niyigena, currently a senior double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology with an Ed. studies minor. My biggest passion is empowering young people and I hope to do that through a career in rethinking Education systems. As a child raised mostly by my single grandmother alongside my little sister and four aunts and uncles, my education has always been the most important thing for me and my family. I have always believed so deeply in the words of the late Nelson Mandela that “Education is the most Powerful Weapon that we can use to change the world.” No doubt education has so much power to transform so many lives such as in my case and that of many kids growing up in poverty. But unfortunately, education systems and school systems around the world continue to fail so many young people including those that I have personally witnessed in my own home community, myself and perhaps many of you. In my TEDtalk, I will use my own story and education experience to talk about why we need to rethink the role of schools in order to truly empower all young people. In my spare time, I love spending quality time with my friends, getting involved in community issues, and working on my personal growth journey.

Frank Ji

My name is Frank Ji and I am a first year LA Posse at Middlebury College. I want to talk about loneliness because we’ve all felt lonely, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first three years of my life in the US and the past winter I’ve spent on campus, I’ve faced and conquered loneliness. I want to share my story about how my choices saved me from the struggle of being alone, and I hope to inspire others to see how their choices can be just as powerful.

Erin Quinn

Erin Quinn became the Director of Athletics at Middlebury in 2006. Under his leadership, Middlebury has captured 11 team National Championships, garnered 24 individual NCAA Champions and 51 team NESCAC titles. Middlebury received the Learfield Directors’ Cup in 2012 and has finished in the top 10 in cup standings since Quinn took the helm. Quinn was recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics as the AD of the Year for 2020-21, recognizing Middlebury’s efforts during COVID-19 and the Athletic Department’s work with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

A 1986 graduate of Middlebury with a degree in economics, Quinn was a member of the football team, and captain of the squad his senior year. 

Quinn directed the men’s lacrosse program at Middlebury for 15 seasons culminating in a 202-38 career record in 2006. His .842 winning percentage is second among his peers in the history of Division III men’s lacrosse. 

He led the team to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in an 11-year span, while capturing six NESCAC Championships. His teams won three consecutive NCAA Championships (2000, 2001 and 2002).

Janae Due

Janae Due (she/her) is a queer, fat, disabled Black woman. Born and raised in a small town in Wisconsin, she was the first in her family to earn a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, where she studied English and Women’s and Gender Studies, and her M.Ed. in Student Affairs from Iowa State University. Janae is currently the Assistant Director of the Anderson Freeman Resource Center, and she loves being involved in the community with local organizations, such as Addison Central Teens and IDEAL Middlebury.

She dedicates her time outside of work providing social justice education to community members and advocating for the creation of community care structures. She values storytelling and personal connection, and uses her lived experiences to help others explore topics around privilege, identity, oppression, and marginalization. Janae cares deeply about inclusive and intentional language, media representation and popular culture, intersectional feminism, and fat liberation.

Usman Ghani

I am Usman Ghani, a Junior at Middlebury College and I feel honored to be giving a TedX talk. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan and have lived in Brooklyn, New York since the age of nine. I am left handed, and one of my favorite hobbies is using that as an excuse for everything. In my free time, I like to play video games, crack jokes with my friends, ride my motorcycle and watch Youtube videos for hours on end. Youtube was how I discovered TedTalks and have been watching the channel since 2010.

At Middlebury, I am an International Politics & Economics major with a minor in Theatre coupled with an unofficial minor in American studies. I also am the Head FYC of Allen and try to make the environment in the building as fun as I possibly can given the circumstances of this year. I lead the MSSC and am part of the Equestrian club. I love to push the envelope and experiment because for me, life is about trying new things and messing around whenever possible.

Omar Kawam

Omar Kawam is Middlebury College’s first Arthur Vining Davis Interfaith Fellow. He graduated Williams College where he double majored in Philosophy and Biology en route to pursuing a medical degree. Outside the classroom, Omar served as the Co-Chair of the Muslim Students’ Union and Interfaith Club where he fostered community across religious and spiritual difference. In his work as Interfaith Fellow, he focuses on exploring where religion, spirituality, ethics, and meaning making fit in students’ daily lived experiences. Omar prides himself on his New Jersey grit (without the road rage) and is always happy to walk and talk about how we navigate life’s purpose.


What is TEDx?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxMiddlebury, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxMiddlebury event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized. For more information, click here

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