TEDxWilliamandMary returns with ‘Echoes of Impact’


Thursday, Feb. 29, TEDxWilliam&Mary hosted its first event since 2022 in the Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium. Following the “Echoes of Impact” theme, the showcase highlighted a series of seven 10-minute talks that covered an array of topics from fostering inclusivity in the film industry to proposing an alternate calendar system. 

TED, a nonprofit media organization, made the event possible by granting TEDxWilliam&Mary’s student-run team a free license to independently plan in line with the “Ideas Worth Sharing” ethos. The 2024 committee, composed of Jack Hayes ’24, Dean Waters ’25, Alisa Yang ’25, Sowmya Bendapudi MBA ’24, and Visiting Assistant Teaching Professor of Theatre, Speech and Dance Michele King, among others, began planning  the event last spring.

Reflecting on the selection process, club co-President Waters underscored the stiff competition each speaker faced for a spot and the resulting quality of the final lineup.

“We had 60 applications originally, and we narrowed that down all the way to seven,” Waters said. “So, the seven speakers who spoke tonight are the best out of all 60.”

The lineup featured various members of the College’s community, including Adeline Steel ’26, Icarus Landaker ’27, Jason Zheng ’26, Jazzy Lorenz ’27, Josh Farris M.Ed. ’25, Tatiana Coleman ’25 and Tom Sherman ’11. 

Host Shehryar Waheed ’24, a member of the marketing team, began with an explanation of the theme.

“In a world that is constantly changing, where our decisions resonate through time and space, we find ourselves surrounded by echoes of impact, the lasting effects of our choices,” Waheed said. “Tonight, our speakers will delve into a part of this theme and shed light on the profound implications of the choices we make, and how they create echoes.”

Landaker gave the first talk of the night: “Making our Mark — Student Advocacy.” In their talk, Landaker highlighted their work as a prominent queer rights activist in the face of the Virginia Department of Education’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students.

“Privacy, dignity and respect,” Landaker said. “That is what they promise students. Yet that is exactly what they have proposed to take away.”

Landaker concluded with a message of hope for their continued queer rights activism and for their peers. Zheng then took the stage to share his insights on the responsibility of individuals that hold titles in his talk, “Good Leadership is a Service.”

Coleman, whose talk titled “Make it About Them” paid tribute to her parents’ unwavering support throughout her life. She shared her journey of discovering her passion for film.

“I find it beautiful when everyone has an opportunity to have a voice,” Coleman said. “It took me some time to realize it growing up, but then I found creative writing. But then, I found film.”

After a difficult freshman year, Coleman recalled the instant community she felt after joining the film club at the University of St. Andrews in her second year of the Joint Degree Programme. Despite leaving the program, this community inspired Coleman to create the WeMake Filmmakers’ club at the College, which now has its own screening at the Ampersand Film Festival.

Following Coleman, Farris emphasized the impact of faculty support in times of personal struggles in “Love Today, Liberate Tomorrow.” Farris is currently a Master of Education candidate at the College with numerous publications and serves as an educational public speaker for various school districts and state agencies.

In the evening’s fifth talk, College alumnus Sherman, now a founder, inventor and community builder, proposed an update to the Gregorian calendar rooted in science, “Timing is Everything: How Small Moments Last a Lifetime.” 

While he pondered the concept of time while at the College, Sherman cited that he began taking his research on time more seriously once graduated. He then argued against the flawed logic of our current calendar.

“Now, I think we all can agree that the Gregorian calendar is massively flawed,” Sherman said. “Starting a new month midweek is like starting a new day midhour. How long is a month? No one knows.”

The penultimate speaker, Steel, shifted the comical mood to a more heartwarming one with a story of two College Marketplace staff, Gloria and Joanne, helping her through a diabetic episode. Their unmistakable kindness inspired Steel and her talk on “Making Small Choices Towards a Kinder World.”

Lorenz, goalkeeper for women’s soccer and double major in public policy and business marketing, rounded off the night with “The PACT within IMPACT.” 

Neel Davuluri ’25, who came to support Coleman, left the event moved by Steel’s call for greater kindness to College staff and the general public.

“I liked [Steel’s] a lot,” Neel said. “It made me see how important it is to appreciate dining staff and just staff at William and Mary.”

The event’s success gave some attendees, like Colin Murphy ’25, a renewed sense of commitment to drive positive change in their committees and beyond.

“It was really cool listening to both current students in grades above me and grades below me,” Murphy said. “Listening to graduate students, alumni. I think it really embodies the echo, of we keep bringing people back and these voices are now being spread to us and the responsibility for us to make echoes that will spread to the future.”


  1. Hi! I wanted to quickly clarify that the title of my talk was “Leading with ‘How Can I Help’”, but it did center on the idea of leadership as a service.


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