TEDx speaker profiles: Sariah Metcalfe and Rebecca Brunk
Next Wednesday, 12 MSU affiliated speakers will take the stage at the Wharton Center Cobb Hall during TEDxMSU. Five of the speakers are undergraduate or graduate students, including arts and humanities sophomore Sariah Metcalfe and neuroscience senior Rebecca Brunk.
Both stumbled upon TED talks years ago, which intrigued them, wondering what they would discuss if they were given the chance.
Poet Sariah Metcalfe
When Metcalfe saw a flyer posted in her dorm building, she jumped on the opportunity to be a part of the conference.
Excitement and intense anxiety took over when she found out she would be speaking in front of a full audience at the Wharton Center.
“I decided to talk about youth activism using a poem that I wrote about a year ago," she said.
The poem, "Land in the Free," was created during a time when Metcalfe just "needed to write" to release some anger. After being submitted by her mother's college, she was off to nationals for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Act-So competition. As a senior in high school, she received a gold medal for her piece.
“I want to share my poem and the idea that youth are just as passionate and just as capable of making change as much as anybody else,” Metcalfe said.
Her talk will also deal with social justice — something that she has been passionate about her entire life.
“My main focus is that anybody is capable of anything that they want to do…it’s completely possible,” she said. "I’m looking forward to seeing how the audience reacts to the poem and how I'll feel as I perform it because, generally, I’m just a writer, a more behind the scenes person. It will be interesting being on the forefront of this theater production and at the center of commanding the stage.”
Novelist Rebecca Brunk
"For a really long time, I've always, in a future sense, dreamed about giving a TED talk," she said.
Brunk will be talking about how she subconsciously wrote about herself and her personal experiences in her novels — then she noticed the reoccurring themes that linked them together. Her four books, “A Thousand Yellow Daisies,” “Memory,” “Why I find You So Fascinating” and another that is currently unnamed, are science fiction and fiction based. For most of them, the protagonist is a independent, edgy, cold, dark, stubborn women, which Brunk says embodies herself.
In her fourth book, “Why I find You So Fascinating,” she intentionally wrote about her experiences traveling to London last summer through the main characters.
“I’m talking about the importance of honoring artistic expression because of how closely it ties in with knowing who you are. A lot of who we are as people and what we think of ourselves comes out in what we do in our art,” she said.
She will be speaking through the lens of her personal experience with losing her mother to endometrial cancer when she was only 14 years old.
“It’s always been really important for me to dedicate the first really big thing I do to her. I’ve always thought I would dedicate my first novel to her,” Brunk said. “TED is always about being innovative and expressive so for me, a lot of what I am has to do with losing my mom so it just kind of felt right.”
Her intention is to inspire people who have gone through trauma hardships and motivating them to get through it.
"It's just my way of showing I was really strong and I turned my pain into something that was really beneficial and it’s the same for (others)," she said.