Pistone and Jenkins Bring TEDxVillanova Back to Campus


Freshman student Allison Bajada speaking at the conference

Elena Rouse


On Wednesday, February 19, the University hosted its fourth annual TEDxVillanovaU in Driscoll Hall. This year’s event, titled “The Struggle to Stay Human,” had a variety of speakers. From University professors to undergraduate students, different members of the community came to present and listen. 

Widger School of Law Professor Michele R. Pistone and senior Merilyn Jenkins organized the event. In addition to teaching, Pistone is the Director of Clinical for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES) at the University. She also founded the Law School’s in-house Clinical Program, which she organized and directed for nine years. Jenkins is a current senior pursuing majors in history and political science.

As a junior, Jenkins “felt compelled to bring TEDx back to campus.” 

“I am inspired by my community on a daily basis and wish to share their powerful ideas with a much larger audience,” she said. 

The event was proportioned into three categories: Living in a Post-Human World, Your Humanity and Collaboration. 

During the ‘Living in a Post-Human World’ portion, Brett Frischmann, Elizabeth Dowdell and Brandon Ambrosino all spoke. The topics ranged from technology’s stronghold over human emotions to how people see the world through their screens instead of live in action.

In the next portion, Allison Bajada, Chris Bragança and Justin Pritikin presented. Two of these presenters, Bajada and Pritikin, are undergraduate students at the University. Bajada, a freshman, used her allotted time to recount her experience with the campus’ shooter scare earlier this year and how the reactions of the people she knew caused her to struggle with how the media has caused a desensitization of the issue. Pritikin also brought his own personal story to the stage, discussing how his childhood illness has taught him to be fully present. 

The last few speakers focused on utilizing one’s own abilities to transform not only one’s personal life but the world. Bethany J. Adams, Isabel Forward, Janel Sevilla, M. Samuel Dennis and Jill McCorkel all had their moments on stage. Dennis, a sophomore, discussed the broken Philadelphia school system and the disregard for those attending its schools. One of the most impactful talks was given by Forward and Sevilla, juxtaposing their experiences with immigration to emphasize the inhumaneness of forced separation. 

The afternoon was split up by performances from groups and individuals from all over campus, and the breaks were filled with charged discussion on the topics discussed.

TEDx VillanovaU was a day meant to spread ideas through a community-based setting, with interaction between speakers and attendees. The buzz and excitement emitting from the crowd both during and after the event was evidence enough of the impact it has had on the Villanova community.