TEDxNYU showcases students’ big ideas


Shawn Paik

Sudhi Kaushik pitches his idea for a TEDx talk.

Katherine Stein, Staff Writer

From understanding ethnic identity to beatboxing with bird sounds, TEDxNYU brought together a wide range of innovative TED Talk ideas for their pitch conference at the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life on Saturday.

The conference consisted of six speakers discussing topics focused around roots, this year’s theme, to celebrate the history and foundation of what already exists and the possibilities for future innovations. Two of the speakers were NYU undergraduate students who had earned their spot at the conference during the TEDxNYU five-minute pitch competition earlier this year.

The first speaker, CAS sophomore Sudhi Kaushik, spoke about his charity Equality Initiative, which sends teachers to rural communities across South Asia. 

“There are a lot of barriers to accomplishing things, whether that is non-profit work or entrepreneurship,” Kaushik said. “But if we all get together and keep on being persistent, we can get one step closer to finding solutions to the problems that exist today.”

CAS senior Blaze Gawlik spoke about the artificial intelligence’s potential to positively impact society.

“We use tools to improve our communities — with better tools, we can improve and shape the world around us,” Gawlik said. “A.I. would just be an ultimate tool that anyone could benefit from. A.I. does the things that we don’t care to do, but it cannot replace us when it comes to the things we care about.”

Other speakers included Ben Mirin, who “bird-boxed;” Mariana Diaz-Wionczek, who spoke about national and ethnic identity; Stacey Ferreira, CEO of AdMoar and cofounder of MySocialCloud, who discussed startups and futures of millennials; and Ashley Gavin, who spoke about the value of studying computer science.

CAS senior Anusha Jayaram especially enjoyed Ben Mirin’s “bird-boxing” because of his unexpected and unique experimentation with music.

“Just the fact that he created such wonderful sound and music out of something you wouldn’t expect, I think that is such a creative way to live life,” Jayaram said.

Stern sophomore Lillian Leung, TEDxNYU chief of staff, said she thinks TEDx events help create a community and foster discussions about new topics and ideas.

“Through TEDx, I have been able to find people that I really connect well with and am not afraid to discuss sensitive topics with because it is a safe space,” Leung said.  “I think a lot of times people think of NYU as this diverse community where it’s hard to make friends or meet people beyond your school, but here today we see people from all across different backgrounds.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 13 print edition. Email Katherine Stein at [email protected].