Speakers - TEDxValparaiso University
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TEDxValparaisoUniversity 2021 Speaker Application

TEDxValparaisoUniversity speakers must come with an idea that is worth spreading. Speakers that are chosen for TEDxValparaisoUniversity are able to tell a story and argue for an idea using credible proof. Program speakers may not use the TEDx stage to sell products, promote themselves, or advance notions that cannot be defended with well-founded evidence.


Previous Speakers

Abby Seeber

seeber_abby“Abby Seeber is a Senior Undergraduate Student at Valparaiso University with a Double Major in Creative Writing and Theatre. On Campus, she has served as Lead Orientation Assistant, an Ambassador in Admissions, a member of the student visit team and the writing intern for the IMC office. In her free time, she is the producer of VUDU Comedy, the pledge educator for Alpha Psi Omega, and a member of Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority.  After graduation, Abby will head to Chicago for the Second City Comedy Studies Program to hone her skills in comedic writing and performance.  Abby’s research centers on promoting performing arts to the national agenda to ensure arts education and accessibility nationwide.”

Amanda Brobst-Renaud

The Rev. Amanda Brobst-Renaud, PhD is assistant professor of theology at Valparaiso University. Her teaching and scholarly work is in the Gospel of Luke. Her particular interest in rhetoric—how the biblical authors communicate—undergirds the question of why the authors chose to communicate the ways they did. Ultimately, it is her curiosity about the Bible and the ways in which it engages ancient and modern audiences alike that drives her research. The parables (short stories in the Bible) hold particular interest for Amanda, especially how these stories possess the capacity to engage and transform their audiences. Her forthcoming book, Lukan Parables of Reckless Liberality draws together her research interests (under contract with Sheffield Phoenix Press). Amanda brings her love of storytelling and teaching together both as a professor and as a preacher.

Dan Maguire

Dan Maguire is an assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department within the VU College of Engineering.  Prior to joining the faculty, he spent a career in industry developing active noise and vibration control systems with a specific focus on vehicles – including locomotives, on-road trucks, mining haul trucks, construction equipment and aircraft.  His work motivated the desire for a better understanding of how sound and vibration affect us, and how our environment enhances or impedes communication.  Dan received his BS, MS, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette.

Daniel Owens

I am a second year Environmental Engineering major in the honor’s college at Valparaiso University. I’m from Valparaiso, Indiana and on campus I work as a Resident Assistant and Writing Center Consultant. In addition to my work, I am active in SALT, SWE, and VuVox on campus.

Dawson Penshorn

Dawson is a junior history major and secondary education minor at Valparaiso University, as well as a Christ College Scholar. He is currently in his second term as President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and serves as a Small Group Leader as well. He also is a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and works in the Valparaiso University Office of Undergraduate Admissions. After graduation, Dawson plans to pursue a career in Christian ministry, and is passionate about the future of American evangelicalism. After assisting behind the scenes at TEDxValparaisoUniversity his freshman year, Dawson is looking forward to stepping on the red circle and sharing observations about the relationship between religion and politics in America today.

JT Klopcic

JT Klopcic IV, a native of Baltimore Maryland and two-time graduate of Stevenson University earning both a Bachelors and Masters in Counseling and Community-Based Education, respectively while competing at a three-sport student-athlete alongside holding several leadership roles on campus in but not limited to: Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Admissions, Athletics, Student Success and Student Affairs. Klopcic served a two-year term on the NCAA Division III National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee launching him into an early career into college athletics. Following completion of his undergraduate degree he served as an Assistant Track and Field Coach at Goucher College overseeing Multis, Long-Sprints, Hurdles as well as Academics and Student-Athlete Development. Simultaneously, Klopcic was a Graduate Assistant for Stevenson University Online within the student-success division. Most recently, Klopcic joined the Valparaiso University community as an Assistant Academic Support Coordinator and Assistant Track & Field Coach. Where he oversees and assist in the academic tracking and success of student-athletes of 7 teams. He is currently an active member of the National Association for Student Athlete Academic and Development Professionals(N4A), where he is a part of the Student-Athlete Well-Being, Student-Athlete Development Programs and Practices and, Ethnic Cares and Concerns committees. In addition, he is a Special Teams leader in the Young Professionals subcommittee and Social Media Task Force leader in the Communications working group. JT currently resides in Valparaiso, IN.

Justin McClain

Justin McClain is a senior public health major at Valparaiso University. Alongside his academics, he is the President of the Public Health Student Association, Vice President of the University Programming Council, and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha. Outside of the classroom, his passion for public health has been molded to what it is today by interning with the Illinois Department of Public Health and Heartland Alliance, attending conferences on global health and emergency preparedness, and, of course, watching TED Talks. Justin plans to continue his education after his undergraduate studies and receive his Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health.

Natalie Muskin-Press

Natalie Muskin-Press is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor who has been working in Higher Education for the last 10 years. Prior to that she spent 3 years working in the community providing Intensive OutPatient Treatment to adults and adolescents and running a residential Recovery Home for women. Her work is grounded in her belief in the autonomy of every human being and that everyone’s worth exists outside of what they do for a living or what they achieve. She is the mother of 2 children and 2 dogs and loves to read, laugh with friends, buy gifts for others, and watch TV and play video games with her husband.

Nicholas Skrobul

I am a Junior Psychology major with a Neuroscience minor at Valparaiso University. I am currently involved in the Valparaiso University Chorale, VUDU Comedy, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and am a member of Psi Chi the national honor society in psychology. While my chief interest currently is advocating for scientific literacy in the public and investigating the propagation of conspiracy theories and misinformation in the public I am open to discovering and exploring new areas of research as I prepare for grad school. Change is commonplace in my life given that I went through 4 or 5 different majors before landing on psychology. After my time at Valpo, I plan to continue to graduate school to pursue a PhD in either clinical or cognitive psychology. I would like to spend time immediately after grad school as a clinical psychologist working in a collegiate setting with students and faculty as they address identity based issues be they identity development or burnout. I’d also like to pursue alternative forms of therapy in my role as a psychologist namely the role of brief psychological therapy in increasing interest in and utilization of psychological services on campuses or in communities. Of course I plan to keep science advocacy in policy and life as whole as a cornerstone of my life be it through Ted Talks, lectures, podcasts, or individual counseling. In my free time I enjoy reading works by Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, and other scientists and philosophers. I also have a philosophical sweettooth which is usually sated by the writings of stoic philosophers. Beyond these academic pursuits I enjoy writing poetry, listening to music of nearly all genres, and honing my own vocal skills.

Sarah Messerschmidt

Sarah Messerschmidt is a junior undergraduate student at Valparaiso University majoring in both International Economics and German with a business minor while also being a Christ College honors scholar. On campus she serves as the President of her sorority and a tour guide for the Valparaiso University Office of Admissions. Her research interests include political theory, developmental economics, and corporate social responsibility. After undergraduate studies, Sarah hopes to pursue graduate school in economics and work for the U.S. government. She is thrilled to speak at TEDxValparaisoUniversity! Sarah hopes that after her talk, you will have a better understanding of how systems of voting affect political reality so that you will be encouraged to fight for a more equitable representation of government.

Tiffany Bell

Tiffany J. Bell is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Valparaiso University.  As a scholar, researcher, and teacher, she has had many unique experiences, which support her ability to work effectively with diverse populations and contribute to greater intercultural and international understanding. In May 2018, she earned an excellence in teaching award from Valparaiso University. She has taught course in race, class, and gender in the media, intercultural communication, public relations, persuasion, theory, and public speaking.  For two years, she worked in China at China Agricultural University as the freshman Communication Coordinator for ICB. During that time, she published a manual incorporating intercultural pedagogy for the Chinese Ministry of Education. She also earned an excellence in teaching award.  Prior to teaching at International College Beijing ICB, she taught undergraduate students at Howard University the foundations of effective human communication and public speaking. During this time, she published, Enhancing Personal and Professional Communication Effectiveness, a custom text designed for students at an Historical Black Institution Howard University students.



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