TedxFIU Club Produces Two Student Speakers for 2015


The FIU student organization, the TEDxFIU Club is proud to report that it has helped produce two of the eight speakers selected for this year’s event: Patricia Kayser and Rhett Williamson.

FIU student Patricia Kayser debuted her audition talk at the TEDxFIU Club’s signature event this past spring, “Your Speech, Your Night.” The event was open to all FIU students and provided an open forum for potential “TED Talkers” to share their stories and get feedback to help shape their talks.  Kayser decided to participate to find out if there was a receptive audience for her message about engaging autistic children through music.

In 2013, Kayser launched Music4Autism, a program through which children with autism enhance their cognitive, physical and social skills by engaging in musical activities. It all began when Kayser picked up a guitar to try and connect with her brother, who has autism and is largely non-verbal.  She noticed that the chords provoked an unexpected reaction from him and she knew she had to teach herself to play for him. As a result, her communication with her brother dramatically improved and Kayser realized that music was a great tool to communicate and socialize with people with special capabilities in general. Her brother’s difficulty with speech led to her using singing as a form of therapy and she has seen positive results with him and the many children she reaches through her music sessions in the schools.

Graduate student Rhett Williamson initially sought help in preparing to present his research work at a graduate conference in a “Three Minute Thesis” competition.  When the CommArts Studio staff and TEDxFIU club members heard his topic, they encouraged him to audition for TEDxFIU.  Williamson’s work in forensic chemistry led to the development of a means to read the “chemical fingerprint” of a particular printer’s ink, and through the creation of a first-of-its kind database of these “chemical fingerprints”, trace a printed product back to its printer of origin. The application for this work is particularly significant in the pursuit of counterfeitors and forgers, and the ability to search a national database – similar to the “Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System,” better known as “AFIS” – is a much-needed tool.

In 2013, the second year of TEDxFIU, the student organization produced another student speaker: Alexa Rae Chavarry. Since 2013, Chavarry’s powerful talk has inspired thousands of viewers.

Over the next few months, the Communication Arts Studio will coach all eight of the 2015 TEDxFIU speakers to help them develop the best way to tell their stories and get them ready for the big stage. This year’s event will take place at FIU’s Wertheim Performing Arts Center on Nov. 5.

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