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Campus Celebrity: Aditya Harnal

Did you enjoy the Tedx event at Connecticut College? Meet Aditya Harnal, the student who made it happen!

To begin with, what year are you and where are you from? I’m a senior from Singapore. I was born in the Philippines, lived in India for a couple of years, attended high school in New Mexico, and spent two years in the Singapore military before coming to Conn.

What’s your area of study? Economics and International Relations

When did you first learn about Tedx? I learnt about TED talks via my mother who teaches English at the Universities back home. She sent me several TED talk videos while I was away studying in the American Midwest. TEDx (x = independently organized TED event) was something I discovered by a chance meeting with one of the co-founders of TEDxUChicago at a business conference in Texas a few years ago.

What do you think Tedx brings to Conn? It brings a unique platform of engagement that in organization is 100% organic and entirely student-run, and in execution it immerses members of the community in an unprecedented environment of idea sharing across disciplines. I believe that one of the biggest takeaways from the conference is the immeasurable passion that each speaker has for their work and ideas. On the part of the attendees, to commit oneself to a day-long conference on a Saturday is a challenge especially in a college environment.That being said, we received an overwhelming response from students and members of the community alike in terms of ticket sales, session retention, and post-conference feedback. 

Which talks have been the most influential? In terms of TED talks, Sir Ken Robinson’s talks are prolific. I was equally inspired by Simon Sinek’s talk on how great leaders inspire action. In terms of TEDx talks delivered at our event, there are too many good ones to name. Afshan Jafar last year, Fiorenzo Omenetto and Alex Hybel this year. I would like to particularly point out the power of our student speakers this year – Winslow Crane-Murdoch and Ethan Underhill were absolutely phenomenal.  

How was your experience with Tedx this year compared to the first year? Things were much easier this year. We operated with a quasi-blueprint from last year and understood how to better navigate the various bureaucratic hurdles at the college. We tweaked a few elements in our production and since we had overcome our initial teething problems, we devoted more time to fine-tuning otherwise minute details. Vertical integration of processes definitely helped. Additionally, we had a deep bench this year, team-wise. 

What are your hopes for this event in the future? I hope the conference continues to be 100% student-run and that the processes remain organically-driven. Institutionalization would be tragic. Involving the local community more would be a great area to improve upon, and I have full faith in the tenacity of next year’s leadership to review constructively the feedback provided this year and to actively make improvements. 

How do you plan to stay active after graduation? Virtually and in spirit. 

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Annie Rusk

Conn Coll

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