Alex Babbitt '19


Name: Alex Babbitt

Year: Junior

Major: English

Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan


Alex is involved in TEDxMSU. The organization is holding its annual conference on April 5 from 6-9 p.m. at the Wharton Center.


What is TEDxMSU? TEDx: In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

TEDxMSU: Rebooted in 2014, TEDxMSU is a collaboration between Michigan State University’s students, alumni, faculty and friends, as well as the larger East Lansing community. The conference will feature interdisciplinary presenters, including those from the MSU community, expressing their past experiences, current projects and future visions to promote inquiry and critical discussion. Our hope is to create opportunities for our attendees to enjoy the TEDxMSU experience, learn about new ideas that will spur their own creativity and provide them with an invaluable networking opportunity.


How did you get involved? I got involved with TEDxMSU because I had a friend who was involved with the reboot of TEDxMSU. I saw the conference my freshman year (in 2014) and immediately thought that this was something I wanted to be involved in. I love TEDx, and I love what it does.


What is your position with TEDx? What are your responsibilities? I am one of the directors of the speakers committee. My responsibilities basically require that I co-manage the entire process that involves speakers (interviews, training, application, communication, etc.)


What is the most rewarding part of your position? The most rewarding part of my position is probably that I get to watch speakers go from an application, through writing their speech, to proudly standing on that stage with their beautifully developed and original ideas.


What do we need to know about this year’s conference? I think one thing people need to know about this year's conference is that we took risks. Some things are going to be happening on that stage that have never happened before. And just like every year, we will have some dynamic speakers talking about some amazing original ideas.



How did the group settle on a “Mosaic” theme? I can’t remember how the group came to the Mosaic theme because we picked the theme before the school year even started. That’s how hard we have been working! Since summer break!


Can you highlight a few of this year’s speakers? I don’t want to give away too much information! But I can tell you that we have a couple very inspirational speakers.

One of them is a graduate student who has been all over the world and has drawn some very interesting conclusions about sports, life and youth.

Another speaker is an undergraduate student making some extremely deep conclusions about colorism.

And we also have a professor who is going to mix-up mediums in his speech -- I’ll let you figure out what that means on April 5 from 6-9 p.m.!


How were the speakers chosen? It is actually quite an intense process. First we have an application that potential speakers fill out. Then some of the applications get chosen to move on to the interview process. Then the interviews actually happen. Then we pick the final list of speakers for that year’s conference. There are some small intermediate steps that I am leaving out, but those are the main steps. It is quite a long process, actually.


Which part of the conference are you most excited for? That is such a hard question. “All of it” is probably not what you are looking for. This might sound strange, but I am ready for the moment the last speaker leaves the stage. That’s when we can have a sigh of relief and feel the overwhelming feelings of pride that always follow. These speakers work so hard and are such intelligent and amazing people -- seeing them all successfully give a TEDx talk is so incredibly fulfilling.


What were past conferences like? Past conferences were amazing. I think every year they get more and more organized and more and more recognized. But every year, there’s a group of dynamic speakers presenting amazing original ideas on the Wharton Center stage.


How could someone get involved with TEDx? After the conference is over, our org will evaluate who is coming back and who isn’t coming back on the organizing team. If we need to recruit more people, we will advertise throughout campus. It helps to “like” us on Facebook at TEDxMSU because a lot of our updates come from there.


If you’re interested in this year’s conference, join the Facebook event for more information. Tickets can be purchased here.