TEDx speaker

TEDxBGSU speakers highlight public good through wide range of topics

Speakers engaged the BGSU community with talks that included awareness on data collection as a business model, embracing life's challenges and improving family dynamics, among others

TEDxBGSU, a conference-style event that will spotlight Bowling Green State University’s mission of being a public university for the public good, returned to campus this week to spotlight ideas, stories and innovation from the BGSU community.

Wednesday's event in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom inside the Bowen-Thompson Student Union featured 23 speakers giving talks on five key aspects of the public good: innovation, growth, community, change and advocacy.  

The range of talks was wide, but all of them are interconnected by their mission to advance public good in the real world. Here is a sampling of just a few of the 23 TEDxBGSU talks:

Vagish Vela

BGSU alumnus Vagish Vela ’17, the chief marketing officer of Lingua Fonica, had a surreal moment while passing through an international airport. As he prepared to hand over his passport, the gate agent told him there was no need: Just look at the camera and let facial-recognition technology denote his passage into the country.

Vela’s talk focused on how the collection of our data ranging from personal information, family connections and even exact facial features has become a billion-dollar industry that has significant implications for how we live our everyday lives. 

Vela's “You are the Product” talk was in the Innovation block from 9 to 10:20 a.m., and addressed data as business, whereby customers do not pay for a service, but “pay” with their personal data.

Vela said something as simple as a rewards card at a grocery store can reveal a great deal about a person — food sensitivities, medical needs, a pregnancy, a change in income — but most people don’t think of their grocery store purchases as leaving a data footprint.

“I think people just don’t know what data they’re handing over because they don’t always think of what they do as data,” Vela said. “Often, it’s not just information that you chose to interact with, it’s data that was collected without you even knowing."

The European Union in 2018 put into practice its General Data Protection Regulation, a stringent set of privacy and security laws that gives users the right to delete their personal data that has been collected by organizations, but no such regulation exists in the United States.

As technology continues to advance and more of our lives are lived in digital spaces, the topic of data collection will continue to be a topic of increasing importance.

Awareness, Vela said, is the major hurdle in data collection, simply because people either don’t know their data is being harvested or they don’t realize their actions are leaving behind data — but change starts with knowledge.

"The first step of making sure we have privacy is to make people aware that there are issues,” Vela said. “When you understand what information you’re handing over, I think that will lead to people making change."

Kyrsten Stuckey

Current BGSU student Kyrsten Stuckey delivered a speech called, “Finding Comfort Where You Are,” which aims to help participants embrace and endure the difficult parts of life.

Stuckey, who is the president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and a President's Leadership Academy scholar at BGSU, said creating comfort is a significant achievement in one’s life, which can be filled with challenges at every turn.

Her speech focused on why comfort is important and how someone can discover comfort within their own life.

“It discusses the importance of being comfortable and just being OK no matter your situation,” Stuckey said. “I think that's one of the challenges that not only my generation faces, but we all face as people.

“In my speech, I talk about the different challenges that I've overcome, but also what tools I use to get me through those circumstances.”

Stuckey, who also spoke in the Innovation window, said students can use their voices for good to change things about their surroundings, a part of doing public good she has embraced during her time as a BGSU student.

“In the many ways that I am involved on campus, I always try to think about the public good,” Stuckey said. “I like to say that leadership is a thankless job and so if you're not doing it for the greater good, you're just giving yourself a headache.”

Dr. Andrea Mata

As a clinical child psychologist, Dr. Andrea Mata specializes in treating aggressive and antisocial behavior, but a significant event during her childhood is what propelled her into psychology. 

During her speech titled, “From Murder to Mission: How I Found My Life’s Calling,” Mata examined how a person can build their “fortress” with individual coping, relationship skills and parenting skills to create better family dynamics.

When families are strong, Mata said, everyone benefits. 

"Everyone has a family or has come from a family, so I’ll be talking about things that anybody and everybody can relate to,” Mata said. “I’ll be giving practical tools on how people can live high-quality lives and create high-quality families, which should be important to everybody."

Mata spoke in the Change for the Public Good block from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

In the post-pandemic world in which many people are searching for ways to improve their lives, Mata said her speech offers practical advice that can be applied to someone’s everyday life.

"People are searching for practical things they can do to live a better life, and I think that’s what my talk is really about,” she said. “How can we live better lives for not only ourselves, but our families and society at large?"

To learn more about TEDxBGSU, visit the event information link.

Related Stories

Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 03/24/2023 09:07AM