Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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TEDxMarshallU Features Student and Community Speakers

Courtesy of TEDxMarshallU

Featuring more student speakers than ever before, Marshall University will host its sixth annual TEDxMarshallU event from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. 

Four students alongside five other speakers from around the world will deliver talks focused on this year’s theme, “Connecting Threads.” The event credits inspiration for its theme to the University’s Higher Learning Commission Quality Initiative theme for the 2023-2024 school year: “Building Bridges.”

Each talk will explore how and why different forces bind people together. Through these talks, TEDxMarshallU hopes attendees will gain a deeper understanding of themselves and others in ways that promote future meaningful connections.

Since its inception, TEDxMarshallU has been a student-led event with faculty and staff mentoring the student organizers. This year’s organizing team comprises six Honors College students enrolled in an Honors internship course taught by Dr. Brian Kinghorn, lead organizer and licensee for the event.

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“Being a part of TEDxMarshallU is one of the best opportunities I’ve had at Marshall,” said Maleah Majakey, student co-organizer and speaker curation coordinator. “I feel so fortunate to have the chance to learn from other students, faculty and individuals in a collaborative space that has helped me to grow as a person and expand my worldview.”

For the first time in six years, the student organizing team hosted an on-campus student pitch event last semester. At the event, 10 potential speakers presented their ideas for a TEDx talk and received feedback from three expert panelists.

Panelist Dan Hollis, a previous TEDxMarshallU speaker and Marshall professor of journalism, said that he was impressed by the quality of pitches. Each pitch brought “something unique to the table,” added panelist Jan Rader, retired Huntington Fire Chief and TEDWomen 2018 speaker. Kinghorn, the third panelist, noted that although past events have only included one student speaker, the student pitches were so well presented that it was “difficult for the team to only select four students as speakers this year.”

“Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to give a TED talk,” said Sierra Lutz, one of the selected student speakers. “It was genuinely the top item on my bucket list when I was 10. Being a part of TEDxMarshallU is a dream come true.”

The students will present alongside campus leaders like Dr. Candace Layne, the director of the Marshall University Counseling Center, and local celebrities like Appalachian storyteller Adam Booth.

Evan Green, another student speaker, said, “Knowing that I’ll be on the stage with so many successful, inspiring people really helps keep me motivated and pushes me to give the best talk that I possibly can.”

For all the speakers, the event provides an opportunity to share their ideas not only with the local Huntington community but also with a worldwide TEDx audience. Recordings of each talk will be sent to TEDx within a month of the event to be uploaded to the TEDx YouTube channel.

“TEDxMarshallU is just such a great event,” Hollis said. “There are so many great and inspiring ideas on this campus, and this forum is a perfect avenue for the ideas to be shared. It’s impossible to walk away from it not motivated.”

This year’s speakers include the following:

  • Sierra Lutz, a third-year Yeager Scholar majoring in biochemistry and minoring in theater who has starred in multiple Marshall productions.
  • Jessica “Jess” Tall, a fourth-year medical student at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine where she is a part of the multicultural advisory committee; additionally, she serves with the Fairfield U. Mentor Program.
  • Evan Green, a third-year Yeager Scholar double majoring in journalism and psychology as well as the executive editor for The Parthenon and member of the Brad D. Smith Student Incubator.
  • Luke Jeffrey, a third-year Yeager Scholar majoring in accounting who also serves as an innovation intern for Marshall’s iCenter and the social media manager for The Parthenon.
  • Dr. Sydnee McElroy, a family medicine physician, assistant professor at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and podcast host of “Sawbones” and “Still Buffering.”
  • Adam Booth, the 2022 West Virginia Folk Artist of the Year (awarded at the Governor’s Arts Awards), who blends traditional mountain folklore, music and an awareness of contemporary Appalachia to create original storytelling.
  • Dr. Candace Layne, the director of the Marshall University Counseling Center and a daughter of Marshall who also owns Imagine Counseling Services.
  • Clare Tuffy, former manager of the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre that serves as the starting point for visits to the World Heritage Properties of Newgrange and Knowth in Ireland.
  • Dr. Ed Kinghorn, former chairman of the department of psychology at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, who recently served as a volunteer area mental health advisor in Central America for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Tickets will be $20 for general admission and $5 for current Marshall University or K-12 students. Children under 8 years old will not be permitted at the event. Visit to learn more about the event and purchase tickets.

Note: Rafael Alfonso works as the communications director for the TEDxMarshallU staff. Additionally, both Evan Green and Luke Jeffrey work for The Parthenon as the executive editor and social media manager respectively.

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About the Contributor
Rafael Alfonso, Content Editor
Rafael Alfonso serves as The Parthenon's resident active voice aficionado and website mastermind. In more official words, he's the paper's content editor. In his free time, he practices various martial arts and keeps up with his loved ones back in his hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Once he graduates (assumedly) in 2025, he hopes to combine his computer science and creative writing majors into things that make people happier.
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