Blinn brings innovative speakers and ideas to Brenham with TEDxBlinnCollege

Event will feature six guest speakers discussing topics that include artificial intelligence, music, horticulture, and public speaking

May 30, 2018

May 30, 2018

The Blinn College District is bringing the innovation and energy of a TED Talk-style experience to the Blinn-Brenham Campus.

Blinn will host six speakers for a live TEDxBlinnCollege event at 1 p.m. Friday, June 22, at the Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center (map).

“We sought out incredible individuals in our local community who have remarkable ideas to share,” said Deborah Vavra, Assistant Dean of Blinn’s Division of Visual/Performing Arts and Kinesiology. “We are proud to present speakers with a diverse selection of perspectives and topics.”

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. TED began in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment, and design converged, and today covers almost all topics, from science to business to global issues, in more than 100 languages. 

Admission is free and tickets are available at The live audience is limited to 100 attendees at a time, but Blinn will offer an overflow room with a live stream of the presentations.

Blinn’s Division of Visual/Performing Arts and Kinesiology has identified six outstanding guest speakers from the local community to discuss topics ranging from artificial intelligence to horticulture. 

The event includes two pre-recorded TED Talks: Anna Rosling Rönnlund’s “See How the Rest of the World Lives, Organized by Income” and James Veitch’s “This is What Happens When You Reply to Spam Email.” 

Speaking live will be:

KATIE BURCH – “How to Treat Top Performers Like Leaders”
Country girl turned entrepreneur, Burch is the founding architect of a boutique firm in downtown Brenham. She is a mom to two spirited boys and a wife to her best friend and business partner, Ken. Together, they successfully have challenged the accepted office norms to produce a work environment based on exceptionally high standards and total freedom.

DR. SARAH BURKE – “Remembrance: Music as a Cathartic Journey Toward Peace and Healing”
Burke serves as Director of Bands and Director of Percussion Studies at the Blinn College-Brenham Campus and as Principal Percussionist with the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra. She also has performed with the Lubbock and Big Spring symphonies. A founding member of Spindrift Percussion Group, Burke has promoted contemporary percussion music through the commissioning of several new works for percussion quartets.

MICHAEL HARRISON – “Artificial Intelligence: The Coming Storm”
Harrison holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in theoretical physics and a minor in quantum chromodynamics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned distinction in his master’s program in aerospace systems architecture at the University of Southern California. He was selected as the TRW Space Technologies Black Engineer of the Year. An active filmmaker, one of his projects debuted at the Cannes International Film Festival.

KATHRYN KELLY – “This Is Not A Speech”
Kelly is a communications instructor and private speech coach in Bryan, Texas. For the last 10 years, she has taught public speaking, argumentation and debate, mass communication, and oral interpretation classes while coaching champion collegiate speech and debate teams. Kelly began ghostwriting speeches for politicians and business professionals during college, and in the last five years has provided public speaking lessons to professionals in the public and private sectors.

JULIE OVERSTREET – “Managing Conflict Mindfully: From A Peer Perspective”
Overstreet is the Director of Outreach and Development for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Brazos Valley, located in Bryan and covering the seven counties of the Brazos Valley. Since studying sociology at the University of Houston, she has obtained her license as an adult educator on mental health-related topics and as a facilitator of support groups for families and individuals living with mental illness.

MIKE SHOUP – “How I Got Schooled by an Old Rose”
Shoup has a degree in horticulture from Texas A&M University. When he was in the nursery business, he never liked roses – he considered them plants that require a lot of care to survive in Texas. Then he noticed wild roses growing in abandoned fields, cellar holes, and cemeteries. Now, Shoup is a key figure in the renaissance of antique roses.









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