TED Talk Tuesday: Student leads discussion on purpose


Keaton Riebel

Mayme Nelson presented on Tuesday, March 28 about finding purpose in life. Her TedTalk incorporated lots of group discussions and participation that all led to teaching the audience how to find their purpose in life.

Erich Schweitzer, News Reporter

Purpose, it is a concept that philosophers have struggled with for years. For college students, it can be tricky to figure out what one’s purpose in life is or what it should be.

The theme of the Ted Talk Tuesday on March 28 was purpose. The event was held in the Kryzsko Solarium at Winona State University and included a discussion led by student Mayme Nelson. Her presentation consisted of a short talk about purpose from TEDx followed by questions that attending students and faculty were expected to discuss and answer in small groups. The purpose of this event was to get students to think about their own purpose in life and how to vocalize it.

Ted Talk Tuesdays originally started out of Winona State’s office of Enrollment Management and Student Life and has been held at the university since 2016. There are six each year, three during Fall semester and another three during Spring semester, and they follow a different theme each year as well.

Dr. Denise McDowell, the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Life, said that Ted Talk Tuesdays exist to “allow a safe space where students can talk about different conversations.”

The speakers are always students, usually from a club or organization on campus. The speaker for this event was from Residence Life.

According to McDowell, they wanted to create “a conversation for students, by students, on a topic that was bubbling up in their world.”

McDowell added that this is also why they held Ted Talk Tuesdays in the solarium with a long table in a U formation. This would keep students engaged and talking with each other. They are also held at 2 p.m. as it is the most convenient time for most students who wish to attend.

What makes this year’s batch of Ted Talk Tuesdays special, according to McDowell, is that this is the first time they have been tied back to the University Theme. The theme this year is Purpose, Empowerment and Persistence.

In attendance at the event was a class that the speaker belonged to. They were originally only going to stay for the first half hour of the event but ended up staying for the whole thing.

Rachel Peterson, administrative specialist to the vice president for enrollment management and student life, noticed this and commented on it.

“They were prepared to leave, and they just never left..,” Peterson said. “It was just great that it showed that they were invested in that event.”

“The primary outcome is for them to make those meaningful connections and for them to understand there’s more to everyone than what you see,” McDowell said.

Many students were asked to share what they discussed with their group about what they do in their lives and what they believe their purpose to be. For example, one student shared that he offered moving services to people in the community for an affordable price. Other students shared their passion for their majors.

“It’s so neat what people do choose to share and depending on what it is, it could help somebody else out that’s there,” Peterson said.

As for other things students can do to find purpose in their life, McDowell suggests attending different events on campus about things you care about.

“These kinds of opportunities give students a chance to talk in ways that in class they may not,” McDowell said.

Since Ted Talk Tuesdays are meant to be for students and given by students, anyone is free to lead a discussion if they wish. Usually, it’s student groups who will do this, but individual students may apply too if they wish. To do this, students simply need to contact the office of Enrollment Management and Student Life who will then book them for the next open talk and tell them what they need to do.

McDowell and Peterson also mentioned that presenting for a Ted Talk Tuesday or even just attending the event and others like it would look good on a student’s co-curricular transcript.

“That may be the difference between showing an employer ‘I’m engaged, I participate,’ versus ‘I just went to school and that’s all I did,’” McDowell said.

The next Ted Talk Tuesday will be April 25, and it will be an opportunity for students to engage with their peers and share things that they may not share in class.