“There’s so many incredible ideas being produced on college campuses and students don’t often get to know what other students are doing,” said Terp Talks President Jake Shapiro.

This was the overarching theme at the second annual Terp Talks Fearless Thinking Showcase March 31, presented by the University of Maryland Department of Communication.

Rou Tzamaras (Junior at UMD) speaking on viewing personal success, internalizing victories, and helping students to overcome anxiety. (Joe Duffy/Bloc Reporter)

Nine speakers took the stage to give TED-style speeches on topics important to them, ranging from mental health to fashion.

The speakers practiced with volunteer speech coaches throughout the semester to prepare for this event, according to Shapiro.

Shapiro, a sophomore government and politics major, said Terp Talks started last year to give communications majors the opportunity to further improve their speaking skills. This year, the organization expanded from one showcase to two, one being opened to speakers who are non-communications majors.

This showcase hosted people from all different majors, backgrounds and experiences, each trying to appeal to the audience in the ballroom of Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center.

First up was the university’s men’s soccer coach, Sasho Cirovski, who told the story of how Maryland’s team went from the “laughing stock of the ACC” to two-time national champions and 15-time conference champions.

Cirovski took the job here in 1993 when the athletic department was sparse, and, according to him, the university was a “fall back” school. He said he saw greatness in the school, though, calling Maryland “a sleeping giant.” He turned out to be correct and has worked hard over the last two decades to recruit the best players and build up the soccer program, raising $136,000 to build Ludwig up from a field with no track, stadium or lights.

Cirovski’s point was that fearless ideas are possible and thinking big is something that is necessary to achieve goals that seem unattainable.

Adam Goldberg spoke next. The junior communications major started his speech by describing last year’s attacks at the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“People are being killed because of humor,” he said.

Adam Goldberg (Senior, Communications Major) explaining the importance of satire, and the crucial ability to laugh at one's self in modern society. (Joe Duffy/Bloc Reporter)
Adam Goldberg (Senior, Communications Major) explaining the importance of satire, and the crucial ability to laugh at one’s self in modern society. (Joe Duffy/Bloc Reporter)

Goldberg went on to champion satire and freedom of speech, showing clips from The Onion, such as this post-9/11 story and this story, which the satirical publication has published multiple times after major mass shootings in the United States since 2014.

He said traditional news typically leans right or left and has ended up polarizing our country.. He praised people like Jon Stewart and John Oliver for being trusted names in news while keeping a sense of humor.

Goldberg said this inspired him to create The Goldberg Times, an online news blog with headlines like “College Student Completes Ice Bucket Challenge During Service Trip to Somalia.”

He is also the director of content for the new on-campus publication The Rival, a national publication with this university serving as the only entirely satirical chapter.

Goldberg said The Rival aims to satirize “college millennial bullshit news you skim on Facebook … and prompt a more politically and socially engaged student body.”

The next speaker’s tone was quite different. Ryan Wong began his speech by describing his best friend, Erin, whom he fell in love with. Erin, it turns out, was not an actual person, but a metaphor for Wong’s developing depression. He described the turn from his and “Erin’s” relationship from love to oppression and from beautiful to destructive. “She would wrap me in blankets every night as I cried myself to sleep,” he said.

Wong struggled with depression for four years and said the only way he made it through was telling those around him the way he was feeling.

Senior aerospace engineering major Oyinkansola Olusola-Ajolyi, a Nigerian student who started college at 16, stressed that even when we have seemingly perfect plans, one event can can change everything. She started college at 16, but had to take four years off because her parents could not afford to pay the tuition. She had to literally work her way, doing sales jobs, back to the University of Maryland.

Zubin Adrianvala, an urban planning PhD candidate, studied ethnic violence in cities and realized the solution to global problems have to start with the individual.

Diane Travis, a student pursuing a doctorate in information studies, talked about spreading awareness about the mental and emotional damage that sensitive or disturbing information causes. People in certain jobs, like the police force, are required to view materials, such as gruesome crime scenes, and can later affect them if they are not properly trained how to deal with the them, usually through therapy. Additionally, Bronwen Schrimi, a sophomore government and politics major, brought together fashion and feminism, stating they are more closely connected than society likes us to believe, and that how someone dressed should never define their sexuality. 

Shapiro said this event allows speakers have a platform to get their thoughts out that they may not have had otherwise.

“We have this theme of fearless thinking and no one really know what it means, so I think … we get to bring out these fearless ideas that are happening on campus and for the people that are participating it’s great life skills to learn more about public speaking and to have the opportunity to speak on a big stage, not just to other people,” Shapiro said.

Featured Photo Credit: A sign from the event. (Joe Duffy/Bloc Reporter)

Kira Sansone is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at ksansone@terpmail.umd.edu.

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