If you are walking anywhere on campus with Slide Kelly '17, you can count on your journey from Point A to Point B taking longer than expected. Together you will likely pause at several points along the way, as Slide frequently takes the time to stop, hug, and talk to the friends he passes. This should come as no surprise. Slide is a rising junior from Denver, Colorado pursuing an Interdisciplinary Studies major in Urban Planning Studies, whose involvement on campus spans from the Tufts Ski Team to Tufts Wilderness Orientation to the Institute for Global Leadership’s Synaptic Scholars program and more. This year, however, he added one major item to that list: the curatorship of Tufts’ first independently-organized TEDx conference, TEDxTufts. When TEDxTufts evolved from the Tufts Idea Exchange this year, Slide was offered the position of curator -- the official licensee and content manager of the event -- as the youngest person on the TEDxTufts team, able to gain experience in curatorship and ensure the continuance of the license.
This year, Slide spent his spring break not on a sunny tropical beach, but in Whistler, British Columbia at the TEDActive 2015 conference which brought together members of the TED community from all over the world. He spent countless hours working with a team of past Tufts Idea Exchange organizers and students passionate about TEDxTufts’ mission: to function as a “catalyst for connecting provocative thinkers with provocative doers by showcasing bold ideas, inspirational stories, and transformative experiences from the Tufts community.” Although in most TEDx events the curator assumes a directorial role, Slide focused his curatorship on the collaborative potential of TEDxTufts. His team expanded as the year progressed, selecting and coaching speakers, marketing the event, securing necessary sponsorships, and managing all details of the event’s production. Campus organizations such as the Tisch College, the Experimental College, the Office of the President, the Office of Admissions and several student-run organizations signed on to support TEDxTufts as well. In only its first year, Slide watched as TEDxTufts became an event that brought people together from all corners of the Tufts community to spread innovative ideas.
Finally, after months of hard work and dedication, TEDxTufts took place on April 17, 2015. Tickets for the event sold out in under an hour. The night of the event - a Friday evening - students, faculty, administrators, and parents were captivated by ten TED-style talks presented by a range of Tufts undergraduates, graduate students, alumni, and faculty on subjects such as the discovery of new languages, the history of elephant conservation, and the danger of putting people on pedestals. There was even free Chipotle during intermission.
Looking forward, Slide would like to see TEDxTufts have a further reach in the Tufts community. For next year, he is looking into a larger venue, dreaming of the beautiful Distler Performance Hall or the historic Somerville Theatre. He would like to draw speakers from further corners of all of Tufts’ campuses, from Medford and Somerville to Boston-Chinatown to Grafton, Massachusetts. This fall, he plans to launch the TEDx Salon program to allow for smaller, more intimate TEDx events. Ultimately, Slide hopes to see TEDxTufts become a thread that connects more members from all corners of the Tufts community, a task held in no better hands than his.