Hundreds crowded into the Shubert Theatre Saturday to hear the life stories and professional experiences of a mountain climber, a former advisor to Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, a jazz musician and others.
The fourth annual TEDxYale event, which is modeled after the popular Technology, Entertainment and Design speaker series, put together a group of 15 speakers with a range of experiences. During the six-hour conference, speakers shared stories about the “Moment of Impact” in their lives with audience members who included Yale students, faculty, alumni, high school students and Connecticut residents.
Sasha DiGiulian, a mountain climbing world champion, said her moment of impact occurred when she was 1,000 feet up a cliff. While climbing a mountain in Northern Italy, she said she could not find any places in the rock in which to attach safety clips. As a result, she had to “free solo” — a technique in climbing that does not use safety ropes — the final 100 feet with the knowledge that if she fell, she would be killed.
“I had no time to panic,” DiGiulian said. “It would waste energy. I had no time to regret what I could have done or should have done; it would waste energy. All I thought about was where to put my feet and hands to keep me alive at the next moment.”
Other speakers spoke of less life-threatening, but life-changing nonetheless, “moments of impact.”
Michael Pantalon, a scientist and practitioner in addiction recovery, said his moment of impact occurred one morning when he saw his patient standing on the edge of the hospital rooftop, threatening to jump. Although the patient was saved, Pantalon realized that he needed to have more friendly relationships and communication with his patients. He is now committed to the development of family training and outpatient care for drug recovery, which creates a less stressful environment that creates a higher chance of success than conventional intervention or rehab treatment, Pantalon said.
Jazz musician Willie Ruff MUS ’53, who was passionate about music as a child, said he was unsure whether or not he should pursue music as a career. His life changed when W.C. Handy, widely known as the “Father of the Blues,” said “kid, you are gonna go far” after hearing Ruff sing. Eventually, Ruff earned a scholarship from the Army to pursue bachelor’s and master’s studies at the Yale School of Music. Ruff went on to become a world-renowned jazz artist.
Audience members interviewed gave positive reviews of the event.
Chris Kriesen, a Hartford resident, said this is his third time at TEDx Yale, and the event has never disappointed him.
Anita Jivani SOM ’15, who spoke at the event about how to promote equal rights for women through market-based solutions, said she was happy to see the audience respond positively to her speech.
“Now that people know about the issue, the next thing I hope people will do is to act upon it,” Jivani said.
Co-curator of TEDxYale Kimaya Abreu ’16 said she was particularly happy this year’s event brought in more graduate students as speakers. While they are as young and passionate about their topics as undergraduate students, they tend to be more specialized and experienced in their fields, Abreu said.
In 2014, 2,540 TEDx events occurred in 137 countries around the world, according to the TEDx Innovations blog.