GCU students help bring TEDx to campus
By Karen Fernau
GCU News Bureau
When business major Jedidiah Woods decided to bring TEDx to Grand Canyon University, he turned to President Brian Mueller for support and to the Project Management Club for muscle.
Woods received both. Today, armed with GCU’s backing, club leaders are busy planning what they predict will be the largest TEDx program ever held in Arizona.
The all-day event is scheduled for March 2 in GCU Arena.
“I’ve loved TED forever, and I have no doubt we will fill the Arena for the local program,” said Woods, a resident assistant at Sedona Hall.
TED is a nonprofit founded in 1984 that converges Technology, Entertainment and Design concepts and spreads those ideas in short, powerful talks, covering topics ranging from science to business to global issues. In 2009, TED launched TEDx with the goal of bringing the TED experience to local communities, from cities to universities.
A 10-student planning committee, led by Woods and Austin Mosher, vice president of Project Management Club and TEDx planning director, plans to select as many as 20 speakers. The speakers will likely range from famous to the unknown.
“We are just looking for people with a passion, an emotional story, who can share it with others,” said Woods, a Michigan native who co-founded Storage Together, an online marketplace business that links those with storage space to those in need of storage.
TEDx topics are expected to run the gambit, but Woods expects that several will address Conscious Capitalism, a free market system described as ethical, noble and heroic. The theories of Conscious Capitalism are the foundation of GCU’s business curriculum.
For Woods and other club members, TEDx offers an opportunity to gain real life experience.
“The great thing about this specific TEDx is that it is almost entirely organized and directed by students,” said Woods, a student leader easily recognized by his long, blond hair, skateboarding prowess and quick smile. “This empowers students with the kind of extraordinary leadership and project management skills that most career professionals never have the opportunity to experience.
“We are empowering our generation by giving GCU students the opportunity to do something great.”
Dr. Randy Gibb, dean of the Colangelo College of Business, agrees: “It was a student idea, organized by students, pitched to President Mueller by students, and brings to life principles of project management. Thus, TEDx GCU is as much about the process as it is the final product — students living out servant leadership.”
TEDx also illustrates the magnitude of opportunities offered by GCU’s fast-growing, hard-working network of clubs. There are 82 campus clubs, and GCU expects the number to increase to 90-100 by next spring. Nearly 3,500 students attended a recent club fair.
And who’s to thank for GCU’s club mania? Students.
“Staff provides support, but it’s the students who are driving the popularity of clubs. It’s a way for them to make their college experience what they want it to be,” said Pablo Ciscomani, GCU clubs and organizations coordinator.
Students draft proposals and craft mission statements for clubs that are submitted for approval by the Student Senate.
Ciscomani said GCU clubs range from social, political, professional to spiritual and showcase the diversity of interests on campus. Clubs are focused on debate, theology, forensic science, justice, sports medicine, computer gaming, scuba diving, math and chess, to name just a few.
“The list of our clubs shows the diversity of the campus. They target people of all backgrounds and interests,” he said.
Student clubs do, however, share common threads. They build campus unity, give students a feeling of belonging and promote leadership.
Some of the most popular include Defenders, a club promoting Christian faith, and the Outdoors Club, which organizes weekly trips to mountains, caves, lakes, canyons and snow-capped peaks.
Contact Karen Fernau at (602) 639-8344 or [email protected].