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TEDxCUNY ‘Unravels’ concepts in conference event at John Jay

Rupinder Kaur

The 2024 TEDxCUNY conference took place in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice. With eight speakers, five performances and five workshops, attendees had many activities and events to occupy themselves with during the seven-hour event. 

The theme of this year’s conference was “Unravel”. There was a large block in the shape of a “X” covered with yarn in the atrium. Attendees could write what they hoped to unravel on a post-it note and attach it to one of the strings on the “X.” 

As attendees entered the theater, they were greeted with complimentary refreshments and swag bags filled with samples from a variety of businesses. All attendees had the opportunity to take pictures at a TEDxCUNY photo area and engage in activities like bracelet making or play games such as Jenga and Connect Four while waiting in the college’s atrium. 

Attendees were led into the theater as each session began. The opening remarks were given by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at CUNY, Denise Maybank. Maybank shared an analogy of pulling a loose string from a piece of clothing, resulting in the entire thing coming apart. 

She attributed that as one interpretation of unraveling. Unraveling helps make the “chaos comprehensible,” Maybank said. 

The hosts of the event were Baruch College student Christopher Clarke and College of Staten Island student Timothy Golubowski. They both gave an introduction for every speaker.

The first speaker at the conference was journalist and Craig Newmark Graduate School alumnus Eduardo Uribe. He talked about his experience as an immigrant in America, as well as the impact his father’s recent death had on him. Uribe used the term “immigrant syndrome” in his talk. He referred to the unique experiences and fears that only other immigrants can relate to and understand; the fear of looking different, language barriers and the fear of feeling illegal. He described his life as an immigrant in America as a “road full of challenges.” 

Uribe talked about how other people have told him to stay strong after the death of his father, but Uribe stated powerfully, “I don’t want to feel strong.” 

“Surrendering is sometimes the best thing we can do,” he added. 

The first performance of the event was by FORWARD_Space, a euphoric hybrid of movement that is equal parts cardio dance, athletic training and moving meditation, according to its website. FORWARD_Space led the crowd in an interactive performance helping people’s bodies open up to receive all the information from the day.

The second session started with a performance by the Macaulay Musicians Collective. The group performed the songs, “Moon River” by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, and “Stay with Me” by Miki Matsubara. 

Hosts Clarke and Golubowski said in an interview with The Ticker that they “loved the performances by FOWARD_Space and Macaulay Musicians Collective.” In addition, both have been learning from their involvement in the event. “I’m definitely learning how to hide my nervousness,” Clarke said.

Session two’s speaker was Anita Raja, a computer science professor at Hunter College who spoke about her work in AI. She discussed the use of AI in medical care to detect preeclampsia and in infrastructure to detect burst pipes. 

The third and final session started with Brooklyn College program director Shemeka Brathwaite’s speech on the importance of volunteering and giving back to the community. Next, Brooklyn College and BMCC alumna Carolina Rosa Martinez spoke on mythology from the Dominican Republic and tied it to the importance of grit and education. 

Sticking to the theme of mythology, Macaulay Dewanee, the Bollywood fusion dance team at Macaulay Honors College, performed a multi-part group dance based on the plot of the fictional young adult book series “Percy Jackson.” 

Johanna Strobel, who graduated with an MFA from Hunter in 2020, presented a speech on the intersection of science and the arts. With a mesmerizing visual aid of moving strings and shapes, Strobel’s presentation on pattern, connections and consciousness stayed true to the overall theme of this year’s TEDx event.

Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness’s Ingrid Marcroft engaged with the audience in a group meditation, where the audience could meditate and relax from their seats.

The last speech of the event was by Luke Steinhauer, a Baruch MBA candidate, voice teacher and vocal coach. His speech involved many engaging vocal exercises with the crowd, teaching them how to control the overall tone and pitch of their voices.

Steinhauer said in an interview with The Ticker, “My mom is also a voice teacher and researcher… After I got done being an actor, I decided to pivot to teaching because it was in my blood.”

The event ended with a great round of applause for those who put their hard work and effort into this day. Many of those involved with the event were CUNY undergraduate student volunteers who were awarded for their efforts onstage. 

Editor’s Note: Maya Demchak-Gottlieb, The Ticker’s editor-in-chief is the director for TEDxCUNY’s Speakers and Programming Team. She had no involvement in the editorial process for this article. 

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Sonia Kalo
Sonia Kalo, News Editor
Sonia Kalo is the News Editor of The Ticker
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