x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Journeys

This event occurred on
April 5, 2022
Huntsville, Texas
United States

Our inaugural TEDxSHSU event was held on April 5, 2022. Each of the TEDxSHSU Talks centered a form of journeying - through the personal, professional, visionary, reflective spaces that journeys take us. The speakers inspired our thinking and impacted our individual and collective journeys.

Sam Houston State University - Lowman Student Center
1802 Avenue I
White Ballroom
Huntsville, Texas, 77341
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Alvin Irby

How to Inspire Every Child to be a Lifelong Reader
Pre-recorded at TED Residency, 2017. Alvin Irby is a former kindergarten teacher turned social entrepreneur. He is founder and chief reading inspirer at Barbershop Books, a nonprofit organization that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops and provides early literacy training to barbers. His work connecting reading to male-centered spaces and involving men in boys’ early reading experiences earned him the National Book Foundation's 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize. Irby holds a Masters in Childhood Education from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education, a Masters in Public Administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and a Bachelors in Sociology from Grinnell College.

Aneika Simmons

Building a Burnout Resistant Campus
Dr. Aneika Simmons is a Full Professor at Sam Houston State University, where she serves as Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the College of Business Administration and a Faculty Senator. In 2021, she served as a Faculty Administrative Fellow with the Office of the Provost. She completed her doctorate in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources at Texas A&M University. Previously, she worked for Accenture and Cap Gemini Ernst and Young as a technology consultant. She also has a Master’s degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Houston and an undergraduate degree from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests are related to creativity, diversity, fairness, and leadership. Her research appears in journals including the Journal of Applied Psychology and Academy of Management Perspectives. She is also frequently asked to give workshops and talks on burnout at conferences around the world.

Blaire Kunard

Money is Complicated
Blaire Kunard is originally from Galveston, Texas. She is a Fashion Merchandising major with a minor in Marketing, and a Product Development intern for Fossil Group in Dallas. On a day-to-day basis, she researches trends, orders product samples, and creates collection proposals. Blaire’s internship is helping her decide what she would like to do upon graduating. Some of her hobbies are traveling, camping, rock climbing, and guitar. Blaire does her best to do something she loves for an hour a day no matter what. She thinks with life being so busy, it is so easy to get wrapped up in work or school. It is very important to Blaire that she enrich her time on this earth doing things she loves with the people she loves.

Christine Cardinal

Health Care Heartbreaks
Dr. Christine Cardinal joined the faculty at Sam Houston State University in 2016. She earned a Master of Public Health from the University of North Texas Health Science Center and a Juris Doctorate from Texas A&M School of Law. She has been a member in good standing of the Texas Bar since 2008, specializing in health law and employment law. Dr. Cardinal serves as the Interim Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Health Sciences and teaches in the Population Health Department. Her research focuses on applying evidence-based scientific research to improve health policies, laws, and regulations to better serve and protect vulnerable populations.

Gabrielle Butler

Why Failure = Success in Your Garden
Gabrielle Butler is a neurodivergent Black woman whose Christian faith guides her life and interests. Gabrielle is an honors student (Plant and Soil Science major) at Sam Houston State University. She has completed three internships and is an active member in the Plant and Soil Sciences Club and Soul Lifters Organization. She enjoys learning about new plants, experimenting with growing methods, and working in her parents’ backyard garden. She plans to run a small landscape design firm and later a community-based agricultural co-op. Her life dream is to own a sustainable farm, somewhere warm and sunny, that can feed her family and community. As a multi-passionate creator, Gabrielle is always trying new hobbies, learning new artistic skills, and expressing herself through cooking, baking, and flower arranging. Her favorite flowers are Magnolias, Ranunculus, and Carnations. She can’t wait to be her family’s florist for weddings and other events.

Hrishikesh Hirway

What You Discover When You Really Listen
Pre-recorded at TEDMonterey, 2021. Hrishikesh Hirway is a musician, songwriter and music producer. He's recorded several albums under the name The One AM Radio and has composed original music for Netflix, ESPN, the NBA and the Sydney Opera House. In addition to his work on Song Exploder, he is cohost and producer of several podcasts, including Home Cooking with Samin Nosrat and The West Wing Weekly with Joshua Malina. He helped launch Google's first original podcast and has executive produced original podcasts for Mailchimp. He also serves the Library of Congress as an advisor on digital strategy. On his shows, Hirway has interviewed a wide range of guests, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain; playwright Aaron Sorkin; singers Bono, Alicia Keys and Selena Gomez; and the cofounders of Instagram.

Jeffrey L. Littlejohn

Lynching and its Legacy in Texas
Dr. Jeffrey L. Littlejohn serves as Professor of History at Sam Houston State University. A native of Dallas, Texas, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Belmont University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. Littlejohn is the co-author of three books: Elusive Equality: Desegregation and Resegregation in Norfolk's Public Schools (2012); The Enemy Within Never Did Without: German and Japanese Prisoners of War at Camp Huntsville, Texas, 1942-1945 (2015); and The Seedtime, the Work, and the Harvest: New Perspectives on the Black Freedom Struggle in America (2018). He also directs a number of digital history projects including Lynching in Texas, East Texas History, The Underground Railroad in Virginia, The Brown Decision in Norfolk, Virginia, and Democracy and Diversity in Walker County, Texas. His work has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Virginia Humanities, Humanities Texas, Sam Houston State University, and other organizations.

Kathleen Gilbert

Food for Thought: The Intersecting Identities of College Student Food Insecurity
Dr. Kathleen Gilbert currently serves as director of the Food Pantry at Sam Houston State University. In August 2021, she received her Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Sam Houston State University, completing her dissertation entitled, "College Student Perspectives of Food Insecurity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Photo-Elicitation Narrative Inquiry." She was awarded the Staff Excellence and Keys of Excellence Awards during the 2020-2021 academic year for her work and service to the university. Dr. Gilbert actively serves on the Houston Food Bank Partner Advisory Committee for the university and surrounding communities.

Lea Moore

The Importance of Being Proud
Lea Moore is a senior at Sam Houston State University with an academic focus in 4th-8th grade Core Education. She is a proud member of SHSU’s Honors College and the event coordinator for the College of Education’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Council. Originally from Houston, Texas, Lea enjoys photography, shopping, and feeding her two hermit crabs, Eugene and Sebastian. Lea is passionate about the power of education and hopes to go back to Houston to teach in the Houston Independent School District. Lea’s inspiration is the author and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, who has motivated Lea to feel comfortable in her own skin. Lea’s goal as a future educator is to allow for all students to be able to feel comfortable in their own skin.

Natalie D. Baker

Hellscapes: What Popular Culture and Politics Get Wrong About Crises
Dr. Natalie D. Baker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Security Studies in the College of Criminal Justice. Her primary research focus is on the importance of social order and the re-establishment of a sense of normalcy within crises and disrupted contexts. Past cases have included Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, the 2014 Ebola situation in the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change. Her current focus is on challenging common myths about how people understand human behavior in disaster and how this is problematic for management practices. She also researches interpersonal crisis (e.g. PTSD) from the perspective of U.S. military veterans, as well as alternative forms of governance. Recent examples of the latter are criminal gangs in Brazil (e.g., the Red Command) and journalist murders in Mexico.

Peter Cooper

Service from the Ground Up
Dr. Peter Cooper is a retired faculty member of Sam Houston State University and a resident of Huntsville, Texas, since 1997. After 46 years in secondary and higher education and a career that took him from his native England across the globe, and finally to Texas, he traded an office for a field and a computer for a shovel. Dr. Cooper is the founder and president of Sustain Huntsville, a Texas and federally recognized nonprofit organization that supports those in need. When he’s not planting, weeding, harvesting, or delivering food, he spends his time recruiting for the organization and walking his dogs.

Ranchel Alvarado

Not Mexican Enough and Not American Enough: Bicultural Identity Struggles
Ranchel Alvarado was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and is a student at Sam Houston State University. She is passionate about helping others and has always intended for her profession to involve helping others. Ranchel is majoring in criminal justice and minoring in human services, although her career path will be different from the conventional criminal justice route. Ranchel plans to pursue a master's degree in social work or counseling as it allows her to serve people and remain connected to the criminal justice system. Ranchel proudly serves as the Co-President of the Honors Student Advisory Council, which represents Sam Houston’s Honors College, among many other campus organizations. A fun fact about her is that her name was not planned; it was a happy accident, and while her name is spelled as Ranchel, it is pronounced as “Rachel”.

Sebastian Aguirre

The Conversation We Shouldn’t Leave Until the End
Sebastian Aguirre is originally from Chicago, Illinois. He now lives in Texas and is a student at Sam Houston State University working toward a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in Finance. His interest in money, wealth management, and investments started when he was young. However, it really took off when he first attended SHSU. Sebastian’s professors, family, and friends have inspired him so much and have encouraged him to pursue this field of work. Sebastian is an active member in the Investments Club and the Banking & Finance Club at SHSU. When not at school studying, Sebastian likes to give a hand at the Houston Food Bank, helping distribute food to fellow Houstonians. When at home, he loves to read self-help books to help him grow as a person.

Ulan Dakeev

Development of AR and VR Tools for Student Engagement in Higher Education
Dr. Ulan Dakeev is an Engineering Technology Professor at Sam Houston State University. He earned his bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering at International Black Sea University in Tbilisi, Georgia, and his M.S. in Industrial Management and Ph.D. in Technology at the University of Northern Iowa. Dr. Dakeev worked as a design engineer at John Deere, taught Math and Computer classes at the high school level, taught engineering college students at the University of Michigan-Flint and Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and holds a Mastering Design Thinking credential from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His areas of research include virtual and augmented reality, quality in higher education, motivation, and engagement of students and employees.

Organizing team


Huntsville, TX, United States


Conroe, TX, United States
  • Stephanie Bluth
    Team member