“It’s not the strongest who survives or the most intelligent but that who is adaptable to change.” – Alec Ross
I had the AMAZING opportunity to attend TEDx Baltimore on the campus of Morgan State University. My neighbor, a motivational speaker herself, had an extra ticket and invited me to attend with her. The event was nothing short of amazing. It inspired me. I met some great people at the event. It encouraged me to continue promoting iamWYS and more importantly why I started WYS. I have to inspire others while inspiring myself. I constantly need motivation. I constantly pour into myself. Life is not easy. There are moments of triumph and moments of distress. In those moments of distress and disappointment, it is those things we equipped ourselves with during the moments of triumph that get us through those rough times. We often get so busy worrying about the defense (external factors and people) that we forget to focus on our offense. It’s a constant reminder to invest in yourself.
The theme for the event was Outliers. I am a MAJOR fan of TED talks. TED talks are one of the ways I keep myself motivated. I will watch TED talks on my lunch breaks. Yes, my lunch break. One of my goals is to speak on a TED stage. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). However, TEDx are independently run events that help share ideas in communities around the world. They are two separate things but promote spreading ideas.
As the attendees registered and settled in their seats, the Baltimore Improv Group performed. They were amazing!! I even volunteered to participate in one of the improv scenes! The improvers would tap the volunteers when they needed a word to complete their random sentences. It was funny! The president of Morgan State University, Dr. David Wilson, welcomed us to Morgan campus and shared a powerful story in regards to being the first in his family to attend college. When he went off to college, his father handed him his savings, which was only five dollars. Five dollars was all his father could save over a course of four years. That story was powerful. He went from the first to go to college to a president of a university. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is…
The first session (The Future) was very high level. Topics ranged from Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine to going to Mars! Literally, it was about the United States venturing to MARS. All of the speakers were highly intelligent and well accomplished in their respective fields.
I really enjoyed the second session (The Urban). We all know Baltimore has been in the news with the recent mistrial in the Freddie Gray case. The second session challenged our way of thinking and reaffirmed some of the issues within the urban community. The topics ranged from How Diversity Fails Us to Tackling Systematic Urban Challenges. One of the speakers spoke on #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. Two particular speakers stood out to me: Alec Ross & James Page. I’m going to start with James Page. He spoke on How Diversity Fails Us. He discussed thinking outside of the box and shared a personal story. Even with all of his accolades, he just wants his son to make it home safely at night.
Alec Ross worked in the White House but also served as a sixth grade teacher in Baltimore Public School. With over 30 students in his class, only one parent showed up to the Parent/Teacher Conference. He gave three steps we all should follow if we are parents, aunts, uncles, or even in care of a child. These steps were powerful. I’m going to share them with you because its so important that we create our own opportunities. I was raised in a small town in South Carolina. I’ve said it time and time again- the nearest McDonalds was 30 minutes. Fast food wasn’t fast, we cooked. I beat the odds. Many of my classmates beat the odds. I know some amazing individuals who are products of a public school education in lower performing areas. Education was important to my parents. We have to encourage our children. I’m not a parent but I enjoy mentoring young adults. Some children are born into unfortunate situations. It saddens me to see a parent or any adult figure minimize a child’s dream. It also saddens me to see a child desire to learn but not have the opportunity that is afforded to others. This is where Alec Ross’ steps come into play:
2) “Make sure your kids learn languages. Foreign languages and programming languages. Excuse free zone. Google Baltimore free computer programming courses. Your challenge is figuring out a class with all the good options you have.”
3) “Be a life long learner yourself. They didn’t make it in part that their parents didn’t make it. They didn’t make it in part because they didn’t have parents who were being their best stewards.”
Mr. Ross said one of my favorite quotes- “Secure your oxygen mask first.” None of us are bullet proof. None of us have economic certainty in front of us.
I could go on and on about this event. The last speaker, Slangston Hughes, closed the event out on a high note!! (Session 3- Human) I’ll just say he said we think its freedom but we are FREE-DUM. You have to hear that one for yourself. The live recording for session two is linked HERE. Take a moment to watch it. The other sessions are available online as well. I would encourage you to find a local TEDx event in your area! Until the next blog!
“There’s a difference between working for a living and living for a living.” – Slangston Hughes