Stories from the Back Row

Thank You For Coming!

about TEDxRutgers


On April 3rd, 2016 TEDxRutgers is bringing together world-leading thinkers, makers, and doers at Rutgers University to discuss doing the unprecedented. The audience is composed of a diverse yet curated mix of 500 students, professors, and thought leaders from Rutgers and beyond, for a stimulating day of presentations, discussions, entertainment and art that will spark new ideas and opportunities for all.

There is power in storytelling; to shape perspectives, persuade audiences and reimagine the universe we live in. Some stories - of innovation, excitement, triumph, and revolution - have yet to be heard or shared. This year's theme is Stories from the Back Row, a chance to take those impactful narratives - sitting quietly in the back row of our classrooms, workplaces and communities and bring them into the spotlight where they can inspire and ignite.

Event Details


Students of Rutgers
This event is open to any idea seeking person on or near Rutgers University campuses.


Amazing Speakers
We will be showcasing a series of talented and creative minds from all over the country.


LSC Auditorium
TEDxRutgers will be happening in the Livingston Student Center Auditorium on Livingston Campus.


April 3rd, 2016 @ 10:00am
We will be unveiling on April 3rd, 2016 at 10:00am. Hope to see you all there!

Meet the Team behind the magic

Meet the talented speakers


Dr. Colleen Georges

Rescripting the Stories We Tell Ourselves

A recovering catastrophizer, Georges took off her gray-colored glasses 15 years ago and began re-scripting her once dreary, disempowered self-story. Her own perspective shifting journey from anxiety to gratitude ignited her work teaching and coaching others in how to rewrite negatives into positives. Through her teaching, coaching, community wellness groups, speaking, and writing, Georges shares a core message—we control how we view and act in our worlds. We can choose to leave behind shame-fueled, worry-driven, auto-piloted narratives, and instead script self-compassionate, hopeful, purpose-directed adventures. Georges is a Rutgers University Lecturer in counseling and women’s leadership, as well as a three-time Rutgers alum, earning her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in Psychology. She runs a Positive Psychology life and career coaching practice, blogs for Huffington Post, is co-author of eight self-help books, and is currently writing her first solely authored book, Seeing All The Good.


Anand Patel

Power of Untapped Potential

Keeping true to his dreams, Anand decided to open Hidden Grounds in 2013 as a way of breaking the state of constant. After three years of operating a successful business, Anand is in the constant chase of discovering untapped potential personally and professionally. As an undying passion, he dreams of starting a non-profit organization to facilitate homelessness in securing the basic necessities of life. What he hopes to achieve through his business is the ability to constantly make his passion into a reality. Raised in india, Anand moved to United States when he was 14. He earned degrees in computer information systems and knowledge strategy from University of Houston and Columbia University.


Liz Wessel

As a student at UPenn, Liz had observed peers who struggled to find relevant work during the school year. Later, as a Google employee, she saw that even the largest, most well-known companies struggle to find key hires. Liz wanted to fix this problem through tech. With smarter filtering and a focus on quality over quantity, the two sides of the marketplace would finally match up. So, 18 months ago, Liz quit her job at Google to start WayUp, recently named by CNN as one of the 30 most innovative companies changing the world in 2015, with her co-founder, JJ Fliegelman. Today, they’ve got 35+ employees and the site is currently getting 1 out of 3 users hired. Liz hopes that one day WayUp will land every student their first job.


Tara Kousha

Tara Kousha is a storyteller and life coach bringing mindfulness and balance back to the work place, schools and communities. Previously a graduate of Rutgers University and Douglass College (where she studied English Literature and Economics),Tara currently works at Google on their International Education team. Five years ago she founded Your Voice, a non-profit designed to provide world class training, coaching and life design resources to underserved communities. Her passion lies in studying mindfulness, balance and the impact both have on creativity, results and happiness.


Aaron Keifets

Aaron Kheifets is a comedian, writer and director. Credits include Comedy Central, Night of the Living with Kurt Braunohler, the Onion News Network, Bonnaroo, SXSW, and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. He’s also written for McSweeney’s, the Wall Street Journal, MTV, College Humor TV, and the cult phenomenon Mortified. Still, his finest moment was becoming a finalist for Playboy’s Mustache of the Year. He also got a PhD in Cognitive Science from Rutgers University.

Meet our Student Speakers


Nouran Shehata

Gather 'Round, It's Digital Storytime

While Nouran will be graduating from the Rutgers Business School with a degree in Finance this coming May, from a young age there were only two things that truly excited her, technology and storytime. When she discovered the intersection of her two loves through a friend's film and photography class, her world changed dramatically. She was fascinated by the mechanics involved with the art, and so she began to immerse herself further into the world of digital storytelling. Nouran went on to compete in her University's 'Changemakers Challenge' in which she sought to convince others of the power digital storytelling has to change the world for the better. She was then awarded a grant to launch her dream media project---a project she entitled The Woahjabi Project, which uses the art of digital storytelling through film, art, and photography to promote positive images of accomplished as well as everyday minority women.


Tom Gill

Overcoming Addiction by Reaching Out

Tom Gill spend many years of his life in despair, trapped by the throes of addiction to substances. Through a series of revelations and willingness to accept outside help to overcome his struggles, Tom was able to overcome these impediments and is now on the road to success. He attributes his change to outside help and escaping his own thoughts by reaching a hand out to those struggling. He hopes to offer others a way out by sharing his experience. Still a thrill seeker, Tom has now channeled his energies into positive things. What was once the insatiable drive to become intoxicated has morphed into a love of extreme sports. From the very first time he leaped off of a 40 foot cliff into the sea below, his passion is only limited by the need to exercise proper caution. He is still an avid cliff diver and now a skydiver-in-training, and plans to become a certified wingsuit flyer in due time.

A few words about TEDx

What is TEDx?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxRutgers, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxRutgers event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast event in nearby Whistler. The annual TEDGlobal conference will be held this October in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. TED's media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, or on Facebook at

We'd love to hear from you!


If you have any questions, please email us at One of the members of the team will get back to you as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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TEDxRutgers Annual Conference 2016