x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Coming Alive

This event occurred on
April 20, 2024
Boston, Massachusetts
United States

Each year, TEDxBU hosts an interdisciplinary event to unite speakers and attendees across the BU community to discuss ideas, wherever they may stem from. This year’s theme, continuing from a partnership with the Howard Thurman Center, is Coming Alive.

Howard Thurman Center
808 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts, 02215
United States
Event type:
University (What is this?)
See more ­T­E­Dx­B­U events


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

Igor Iwanek

Music Professor
Dr. Igor Iwanek is a well-being diplomat & musician. His tool of choice is Rhythmic Breath Control (RBC). A speaker featured on NPR, an award winning music composer, left-handed pianist and harmonium performer, Dr. Igor is also an India-trained Yoga of Sound instructor. A cerebral hemorrhage survivor, he understands the fleeting nature & power inherent in every moment. Dr. Igor led RBC workshops at academic conferences, corporate events, teachers' associations, in person and online since 2017. Dr. Igor had the privilege to share these teachings with audiences across the USA , Portugal, Austria, Poland & India. These programs draw on his expertise in the fields of yogic meditation, Indian & Western classical music, psycho-acoustics, Salsa dancing, hammock lounging & stargazing. Dr. Igor teaches music at Boston University & MIT.

Isabella Zangirolami

Isabella is a Boston University freshman undergraduate pursuing a BA in psychology and philosophy. She has a deep interest in human relationships, and her life goal is to contribute to the community by storytelling her own experiences with abuse and empowering scientific knowledge. She is from Italy, and a fun fact about her is that she is (not so) secretly an illustrator of chickens.

Joel Paulson

Joel Paulson is a current second-year law student at Boston University, hoping to practice Criminal Defense upon receipt of his Juris Doctorate. While in law school, Joel has worked for the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Boston and served as a research assistant for the Center of Antiracist Research at BU. Joel will intern with the Defenders Association of Philadelphia and the NAACP LDF this upcoming summer and fall. Joel is transracially adopted into a white family; his birth father has spent 15 years of his life in prison. Joel arrived at BU upon graduating from Swarthmore College, earning a degree in Political Science and Educational Studies while being a four-year member of the varsity lacrosse team and in the all-black a cappella group “Essence of Soul”. Joel has been able to combine his career and love for lacrosse by working (and sometimes playing) for the Puerto Rican National Lacrosse Federation as the Head of Island Development.

Lily Belisle

Lily Belisle is a Boston University undergraduate in Sociology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She focuses on gender-based violence and criminal justice, currently conducting an Honors Thesis on the rhetoric in criminal rape trials. With previous roles at KRC Disability Law, the Women’s Bar Foundation, the Suffolk County DA's Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Unit and London's Support Through Court service, Lily envisions a career in public interest law. She has also worked as BU CISS Communications Manager since October 2021. She has been recognized with Dean’s List (2021-2023), AKD Honors Society, the Harold Case Scholarship and an Albert Morris grant. Co-founder of Armchair Journal, Lily actively contributes to academic discourse and has two papers to be published in 2024. Lily engages with local prison outreach and in 2023 took part in the Center on Forced Displacement’s inaugural Serbian Summer School, further underscoring her commitment to meaningful structural change.

Marie Grochowski

Marie is a Boston University student majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and minoring in Chinese. As a pre-med student, Marie is deeply committed to assisting her community, focusing on healthcare for the underprivileged and undocumented. Additionally, she is part of a significant research team on campus focusing on environmental health. Her research involves analyzing soil and leaf samples from various urban and rural locations and assessing their elemental composition, including heavy metal concentrations. This study compares samples from landscaped planted trees in Boston with those from urban and rural forests, aiming to understand the effects of urbanization on soil, leaf characteristics, tree health, and survival. Marie is also Ecuadorian-American and was brought up in China, allowing her to achieve fluency in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

Matthew Dicks

Elementary School Teacher, Writer
Matthew Dicks is the internationally bestselling author of six novels and two nonfiction titles, including Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Art of Storytelling. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide. He fills his days as an elementary school teacher, storyteller, comedian, blogger, wedding DJ, minister, and communications consultant. He’s been teaching for 25 years and is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a Connecticut Teacher of the Year finalist. Matthew is a record 59-time Moth StorySLAM champion and 9-time GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour. Matthew is the founder of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization that produces shows throughout New England.

Scott Mason

Scott Mason is an attorney and transformational executive leadership coach who lives to help unhappy attorneys and other professionals magnetize and monetize professional freedom. After graduating from Columbia Law School, Scott worked for 20+ years as an attorney and senior executive in the government and non-profit sectors. He led a division responsible for programmatic oversight of 300+ senior centers and home-delivered meal providers; was second-in-command of NYC's central administrative law court; and served as the General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, and head of operations for the USA's largest provider of domestic violence shelters. Scott earned a Hero's Award from the NYC Department of Buildings for work he performed during the recovery from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Scott currently sits on the Career Advancement & Management Committee and the Mindfulness & Well-Being in the Law Committees of the NYC Bar Association.

Shaylon Walker

Shaylon is a senior, studying Religion and African-American studies at Boston University. Since coming to Boston, Shay has been involved in organizing and furthering efforts that promote sustainability. Shay advocates for the inclusion of Black communities in these efforts, recognizing that those with this identity are at a heightened risk of being negatively impacted by climate change despite minimal contributions. As a student, Shaylon works as a Resident Sustainability Leader and photographer for the Howard Thurman Center. Shay also works off-campus as the Community Engagement Manager for REFORM, a prison reform organization founded by Jay-Z and Meek Mill. In their free time, they serve as President of Swipes for Boston, an organization dedicated to the distribution of hand-packaged, donated meals to those facing food insecurity in the streets of Boston. Shay enjoys public speaking, taking walks, and educating others on the importance of being conscious about the state of our earth.

Sydney Spottiswood

Sydney Spottiswood is a sophomore undergraduate student at Boston University majoring in International Relations with a minor in French Studies. On-campus, they are on the executive board of BU’s radio station and the Treasurer of SHADES, a student-run organization for queer students of color. They are also on their region’s hall council and have two part-time jobs. Off-campus, they like going to coffee shops, thrifting, and going to shows in the Boston music scene. After graduation, Sydney intends to continue their education in graduate school with a focus on conflict, foreign policy, and human rights studies.

Organizing team


Boston, MA, United States


Boston, MA, United States
  • Abir Ward
  • Delaney Foster
    Team member
  • Harshul Chugh