By Isaiah Chisolm

During a Ted Talks show at the University of Connecticut Sunday, several UConn students and alumni spoke on various topics ranging from HIV to Women in Politics emphasizing the theme of “Catalyst in Context.”

The students and alumni used a variety of storytelling methods in order to educate the crowd and give some first-hand accounts as to how their topics could affect different people. The speakers used both facts and statistics to drive home their point.

Seja Jackson, a nurse practitioner and UConn student in the Ph.D. program of the school of nursing, spoke about the importance of understanding HIV, knowing the signs and symptoms and getting help as soon as possible.

Jackson did this by impersonating a series of created characters all of whom had HIV and putting them in various situations throughout their lives where they were exposed to the virus. Throughout the presentation, she used statistics to help lead her story.

“Did you know that 26 percent of those living with HIV are over 55? Did you know that 23 percent of them were women?”
Jackson said that it was important to open up to those who might have been afflicted and offer help and support whenever possible. She said that as an RN and a nurse she had met many people who had HIV and that sometimes just a little support is all it takes.

“As we get older we learn that we can go up to someone and say ‘Hey what’s going on? I’m here if you need me’ and just something like that will be enough.”

Marissa Piccolo, a senior at UConn and a political science and economics major, spoke about the importance of women in politics. Piccolo used the past presidential election as a backdrop to her topic saying that it was a difficult experience.

Photo: Adam Hushin

“There were accounts of parents whose daughters were so excited for a female president and then having to break the news to them. That was so sad.”

Piccolo encouraged the women in the audience to run for office one day, saying that their tenacity and hard work would eventually pay of and that they could accomplish anything they put their mind to.

Aiden Ford the organizer of the event attributed its success to the hard work and effort UConn had put into it over the years and said that she hoped there could be more Ted Talks in the future.

“TEDxUConn started in 2013. That’s when they held the first conference and we’ve had three consecutive conferences since then. Each year we learn from the past conference and we build on what we established there.”

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