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LANCASTER, Pa. — This story was updated on April 22, 2014
A researcher who founded a company to advance the treatment of autism, a psychologist who treats torture survivors from around the world, the founder of a national charter school network that teaches students from low-income communities how to succeed in college, and a recent graduate who has helped immigrants achieve political asylum will explore "The Trials and Triumphs of the Underdog" in Franklin & Marshall College's first TEDx event.
The Black Pyramid Senior Honor Society, a student organization focused on intellectual curiosity, leadership and service, is organizing TEDxFranklin&MarshallCollege to provide a forum to discuss how individuals find paths to success as underdogs, said lead organizer Caitlin Brust, a senior majoring in English and philosophy. The event is slated for 7 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, in the Green Room Theatre on campus. It is free and open to the public, but tickets are required.
"This is a great intellectual forum to talk about concepts of service and giving back," Brust said. "The concept of TEDx is having an idea to share, and all of the talks are focused around that one idea. We chose these speakers because they are intellectual leaders who have nuanced and intuitive perspectives on the underdog. Each of them will bring an energetic and thoughtful talk to the program."
The four speakers each will give roughly 18-minute talks about what it means to be an underdog within the cultural spheres of medicine, psychology and education -- and their various pathways to success.
The speakers are:
Joan Fallon, a Class of 1979 alumna who discovered through her practice as a pediatric chiropractor an enzyme deficiency in children with autism and spearheaded an effort to better treat them. Fallon is the CEO and founder of Curemark LLC, a research and drug development company focused on treating children with neurological diseases.
Dave Levin, co-founder of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), created KIPP to help children develop the knowledge, skills and character necessary to succeed in college and make a difference in their communities. KIPP has grown from one classroom in Houston to 141 public charter schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving 50,000 students. F&M Partners with KIPP to offer opportunities to high-achieving, lower-income students who might not otherwise apply to an elite national liberal arts college.
Akbar Hossain, an F&M Class of 2013 graduate who came to the College after his family left Saudi Arabia to find educational opportunities. Hossain, who has a bachelor's degree in government, worked as an advocate for those seeking political asylum and was a campus leader during his time at the College. He became the College's first recipient of the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship for graduate studies in public service.
Kate Porterfield, a staff psychologist with the Bellevue/New York University Program for Survivors of Torture, who has worked as a clinical evaluator on several cases of young people held in detention at Guantanamo Bay. She frequently consults with attorneys handling cases involving torture and maltreatment. She also is the sister of F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield.
College Trustee and alumna Sue Washburn of the Class of 1973 will be the master of ceremonies. Washburn is a principal of Washburn & McGoldrick Inc., a consulting firm for educational advancement.
Members of the Black Pyramid Society decided to organize a TEDx event at F&M because it is consistent with the group's values as a senior honors society, said Brust, who also became interested in the possibility after a friend shared with her Susan Cain's TED talk, "The Power of Introverts."
"I really hope this gets people excited about these thought-provoking talks and idea sharing," Brust said. "It's not just for Franklin & Marshall, but for the larger community. TEDx is an accessible way to become engaged with ideas. "
An offshoot of the nonprofit organization TED --which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design -- TEDx was created in the spirit of TED's mission, which focuses on "ideas worth spreading." It supports independent organizers such as the Black Pyramid Society that want to create TED-like events in their communities to spark conversation and promote engagement through the exploration of ideas. More than 9,000 TEDx events have been organized since the organization's founding in 2009.
The F&M TEDx event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required and space is limited to 100 participants. Seats for faculty, students and staff will be awarded by lottery. A reception will follow the talks at the Roschel Performing Arts Center and the talks will be available on YouTube following the event.