News, On Campus

Speakers at TEDxBostonCollege Spring Conference “Solve for Why”

Audience members gathered in Robsham Theater on Saturday to listen to six speakers deliver speeches highlighting mindfulness, inclusion, and purpose.

“When you start your day with something positive and creative, you shift your focus from the negativity that’s everywhere to a more positive mindset,” Hill said.

TEDxBostonCollege hosted its annual spring conference in Robsham Theatre over the weekend. This year’s theme, “Solve for Why,” focused on the search for purpose and passion.

Among the speakers were five professionals and the winner of the 2023 student speaker competition, Victor Norman, MCAS ’24.

Hill, CEO of Hill Brothers Chemical Co. and bestselling author of Shifting Gears: From Anxiety and Addiction to a Triathlon World Championship, presented the first speech. As a self-proclaimed “pun master,” Hill presented a talk connecting the use of puns to making lifestyle shifts for a more fulfilling life.

“Whatever creative acts you are going to plant, let it branch out and build the community that you never knew you needed,” Hill said. “And yes, in case it didn’t stick out to you, branch was a pun. Can you beleaf it?”

Julie Fox, founder and former CEO of Brandbuilders Strategy Consulting, delivered a talk tilted “How the Words Used in Healthcare Help Keep Us Sick.”

Fox is currently researching and writing a book about how the diction used in health care can lead to certain outcomes. Her talk drew upon personal narratives about the consequences of improper terminology in the world of medicine.

Nashlea Brogan, an audiologist and advocate for those with hearing loss, delivered a talk about how hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and anxiety. Brogan emphasized a quote from Helen Keller about the loneliness of experiencing hearing loss.

“‘Blindness separates people from things,’” Brogan quoted. “‘Deafness separates people from people.’”

Brogan also recounted her own experiences with hearing loss and urged the audience to think of hearing care as preventative care.

“Together, we can ensure that [people who experience hearing loss] can continue to engage in conversations, laughter, and the precious moments that make life worth it,” Brogan said.

Mark Shrime, international chief medical officer at Mercy Ships and a lecturer in global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School, delivered a talk titled “Putting Purpose Over Path.”

Shrime is the author of Solving for Why: A Surgeon’s Journey to Discover the Transformative Power of Purpose and previously delivered similar orations at the United Nations and World Health Organization about how to find career purpose in the healthcare sector.

Derrick Noble, a professional public speaker and speech coach, delivered a talk titled “How the Best Leaders Handle Adversity to Inspire Their Employees.”

Noble emphasized the importance of empowering employees with a sense of purpose in their jobs can produce innovation.

Norman, the lone student speaker, discussed the importance of inclusive language in his talk.

Disregarding someone’s preferred name or pronouns can lead to LGBTQ+ individuals feeling “othered,” which increases instances of mental illness and self-harm, Norman said.

“However, in many cases, people aren’t trying to be disrespectful,” Norman said. “It’s a matter of grammar and the English that you’ve grown up with.”

Norman said he wanted to call attention to the common mistakes people tend to overlook while communicating with others.

“What I hope for, after today, is when you’re presented with an issue of language in your life … that you remember that language is the key to inclusivity, empathy, and a better world when we come together,” Norman said.

April 10, 2024