Ten members of the Wheaton community stepped into the spotlight on Mon. March 26 at the much-anticipated WheaTalks event, sponsored by the Roosevelt Institute, TriBeta, and the Student Government Association (SGA). The audience was treated with incredibly diverse and interesting topics ranging from snowflakes in space to sexuality in science-fiction.
WheaTalks was inspired by the popular online Ted Talks, featuring various speakers for public viewing. Over 150 people from Wheaton and beyond attended the talks. Each candidate was handpicked from a group of 20 applicants of students and professors. WheaTalks host Adin Lenchner ’12 started off the night by challenging the audience “to keep an open mind.”
Ben Weinstock ’14 started off the evening with a discussion on comics as a serious artistic medium.
Weinstock was followed by Emerald Bresnahan ’15, who presented an elaborate experiment involving growing snowflakes in space. Bresnahan was a finalist in a NASA competition and traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete with other finalists. She said, “It was a wonderful experience to be able to share my experiment with an audience! WheaTalks are a great opportunity for people to come together to freely share and learn about diverse topics from the Wheaton community.”
Speaker Sarah Estrela ’15 delivered an impassioned presentation on women in the military. She stated, “This event was exactly what I came to Wheaton expecting to do as a member of the community,” she said. “It was an honor to share something I am so passionate about, and although I was very nervous, I knew my peers would listen to me with open minds and ears.”
“I wanted to speak about this because I felt it was something the Wheaton community needed to know, seeing as we are the potential future leaders of our country and the world is in the palm of our hands.”
Claudia D’Adamo ’13 was excited by the opportunity WheaTalks provided, saying, “Participating in WheaTalks this year was a fantastic experience. It gave me an opportunity to speak about something that I am passionate about and give people the chance to learn about something that they wouldn’t have had the chance to learn about in classes at Wheaton. I chose to speak about something that I find incredibly interesting, and I’m planning on pursuing the research that I’ve done in the future.”
Other participants included Jeff Kleinschmidt ’12, Peter Szabo ’12, Aiden Kestigian ’12, Jeff Pomerantz ’12, Hannah Allen ’12, and Associate Professor of Film Studies and English Josh Stenger.
Rike Sterrett ’15 attended WheaTalks and said, “It was a little different from what I expected, but all the people that presented were really passionate speakers who cared about the topic they were presenting, which made it really fun as an audience member. There was also such a wide range of ideas so that none of the topics got boring. It also made me think about things that I never really thought about or knew about.
Courtney Gilman ’15 added, “It was a fun and innovative event, and despite not having previous knowledge about certain presentations, the presenters inspired me and opened me up to new topics. Wheaton students are full of great ideas, and it would be fantastic if this event could happen again.”
WheaTalks served to exemplify the diversity and intelligence of Wheaton’s students. Estrela commented, “Participating with the nine other speakers was incredible. Being associated with those fantastic students makes me feel really blessed and I’ve learned a great deal from each of them. I hope this is the start of a great new tradition at Wheaton, I’m excited to have been a part of it.”
Lenchner was thrilled with the success of the event, saying, “We would love to see the event happen again in the future. Judging by the success of Monday night, I am certain that the event would be a hit. We liked to think of the event as being the introduction to a larger conversation; we hope that it succeeded in that respect and hope that the conversation continues next year.”