x = independently organized TED event

Theme: What's The Point?

This event occurred on
March 31, 2021
Blacksburg, Virginia
United States

[Edit] The link for this year's event can be found below!

What's The Point? covers Empathy, Importance of Education, and Perseverance all in regards to minority perspectives. TEDxVirginiaTech 2021, in partnership with Virginia Tech Union, strives to push the boundaries of our campus’ idea of inclusive education and social experiences for minority Hokies.

About 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, TED Talks 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. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia. TED's media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; TED Translators, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established The Audacious Project that takes a collaborative approach to funding ideas with the potential to create change at thrilling scale; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Youtube Premier Virtual Event
Blacksburg, Virginia, 24060
United States
Event type:
University (What is this?)
See more ­T­E­Dx­Virginia­Tech events


Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Aria Hill

Designer and Creative Director
Aria Hill is a designer, creative director, and co-founder of The Garden, a multidisciplinary, experimental practice. Recently completing her first degree – Bachelor of Science in Mathematics – in 2020, she is in her fourth year of Virginia Tech’s Bachelor of Architecture program. Aria investigates Caribbean culture, the absence of Black women in design, and the intersection between Mathematics and Architecture. She is the 2020-2021 President of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) at Virginia Tech. Previously, her work has been internationally recognized by institutions including the New York Review of Architecture, AIA Virginia, Architectural League NY, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Heidi Williams

Family Sociologist and Assistant Professor
Heidi M. Williams earned her PhD in Applied Sociology from the University of Louisville. As a family sociologist, she uses her own life experiences and family history to teach students how to deconstruct social narratives and analyze social inequalities. Her research examines the effects of family instability, such as parental partnership transitions and parental incarceration, on child wellbeing across the life course. She spends her time with her favorite biologist, Jamie, mountain biking and reading.

Jordan Fox

Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience
Jordan is a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and Minoring in Spanish. She is from Richmond, Virginia and in her free time enjoys white water kayaking on the James River. She is very passionate about promoting practices that work to bridge gaps between the Deaf and ASD communities with non-disabled groups such as community cookouts and learning sign language, which she is conversational in. Jordan hopes to attend graduate school and eventually earn her Psy.D. in clinical psychology. Her drive to organize this event is seeded in the idea that racism, adversity, and inclusivity are issues that always need more attention and progressive change within any community. Although she is a cisgender, white woman, she understands that it is her responsibility to provide a platform for her peers and community members that are BIPOC to speak about their experiences.

Menah Pratt-Clarke

Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity at Virginia Tech
Menah Pratt-Clarke is the Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity and Professor of Education at Virginia Tech. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Iowa, and a master’s degree, PhD, and law degree from Vanderbilt University. Author of four books, A Black Woman’s Journey from Cotton Picking to College Professor: Lessons about race, gender, and class in America was awarded the American Education Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award for scholarship deemed to be outstanding in its field in 2018. Her current project is From Black Girlhood to Black Womanhood: Finding the Divine Feminine.

Patrick Marcinko

Business and Financial Services
Patrick graduated from Virginia Tech in the Spring of 2020 with a degree in Business. After graduation, he moved to Washington, D.C. to begin a career in financial services. While his path may seem similar to many recent alumni, his journey has been nothing short of a roller coaster as he lives with an ultra-rare skin disorder called Pachyonychia Congenita (PC).

Prince Wang

International Relations
Prince Wang is a sophomore majoring in International Relations with a minor in Chinese. He represents the class of 2023 as the class president and is also the co-president of Model United Nations here at Virginia Tech as well. Andrew Yang is one of his biggest inspirations, and he hopes to utilize his knowledge, passion, and creativity as tools for positive change, similar to Mr.Yang. Prince also enjoys attending Virginia Tech football games, hiking beautiful spots around Blacksburg, and being a crazy food scientist.

Shannon Donovan

Corporate Finance
Shannon Donovan is from Hingham, Massachusetts, and is studying Corporate Finance at Virginia Tech. Shannon has a passion for helping others to cultivate empathy for themselves by noticing the negative self-talk that so many have been programmed to identify with.

Sharon P. Johnson

Associate Professor of French
Sharon P. Johnson is Associate Professor of French in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures and Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, housed in the Sociology Department. Together with her colleagues, they created the French Program of the CLAHS and the Pamplin College of Business French and Business opportunities in both areas, thanks to a Department of Education Title VI Grant. A 19th-century French scholar, her research has focused on writers such as Gustave Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola and Mathilde Bourdon and painters such as Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot and Artemisia Gentileschi. Her current book project’s title, Bodies that Speak: Narrating and Interpreting Rape in Law, Medicine and the Penny Presses (canards sanglants) of Nineteenth-Century France, encapsulates the foci of her analyses of rape representations in legal, medical and journalistic discourses.

Suchitra Samanta

Associate Professor
Dr. Suchitra Samanta has a Bachelor's degree in English Literature from India, a Master's in Drama, and in Cultural Anthropology, both from the Univ. of Virginia. Her doctorate is also from the Univ. of Virginia. At Virginia Tech Dr. Samanta is affiliated with the Women's & Gender Studies program, and also developed and teaches a course on Asian American histories and cultures. Her research interests include gender, minority status, and education, in India, and among Asian American women.

Tyler Pugh

Industrial and Systems Engineering and Spanish
Tyler Pugh is a fourth year student receiving a dual-degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering and Spanish. He is currently working as a Resident Advisor for the Honors Residential Commons and serving as an ambassador for the College of Engineering. Through the Fralin Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Tyler has found his passion, conducting research with Dr. Tonisha Lane regarding sexual violence and its impact on academic success and financial stability. Tyler hopes to continue his advocacy for male and LGBTQ+ identifying survivors by expanding the narrative surrounding who experiences sexual violence and implementing policies that reflect that.

William "Trevor" Jamerson

Trevor Jamerson received a PhD in Sociology from Virginia Tech in 2019. He has previously taught at Hollins University and is currently an Instructor of Sociology at Virginia Tech specializing in race studies and social theory. His research concerns racial commodification, specifically how Blackness is marketed as a tourist attraction in Harlem, New York. He is a member of the Race in the Marketplace International Research Network, and has written about the relationship between digital technologies and racial inequality, the racial history of TripAdvisor, and the race's role in the tourism industry. All of this work is the result of a lifelong interest in travel, combined with educational experiences going back to high school that centered questions of racial inequality in his mind. In the classroom he enjoys playing dated and uncool music to his students, as well as encouraging students to make sociology work for them, rather than the other way around.

Organizing team




Blacksburg, VA, United States
  • Anna Lime
    Team member
  • Beth Marshall
    Team member
  • Emma Sahlgren
  • Emma Wise
    Team member
  • JT Faccone
    Post production
  • Kellie Hoffman
  • Mia Hermsen
    Team member
  • Michael Caraballo
    Post production
  • Nat Warnke
  • Samuel Frye
  • Taylor Curran
  • Tejas Jagdhari