W&J students share innovative thinking at fifth annual TOM Talks

Created: November 28, 2017
Last Updated: July 14, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Nov. 28)—Innovation, ideas and insight were the main focus at Washington & Jefferson College’s (W&J) TOM Talks, held for the fifth time on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Inspired by TED Talks, TOM Talks is a student-run discussion series hosted by the Washington Fellows scholars that allows students to present independent research. This year’s event, organized by communication arts major Cole Grecco ’18 and history major Jessica Skobel ’20, featured speakers Michelle Klein ’18, Jonathan Cadez ’18, and Nathan Repine ’18.

“We’re a campus community. Many institutions bring in speakers from different backgrounds, and different areas of the world, and that’s great to hear that perspective, but there’s a lot of homegrown, innovative thought, and people here that are doing really cool things that not everyone on campus knows about,” said Cole, who has been involved with TOM Talks from its inception four years ago. “This is their opportunity to talk about something that has influenced them or that they’ve looked at very closely and has changed the way they think and the way they act, or their chosen career path. I think it’s important for our community to see what’s going on here with students.”

Michelle, a psychology major who plans to pursue a Doctor of Chiropractic degree at Life University in the fall, spoke on holistic medical care with her talk “Health From Within” while business major Nathan explored the meaning of the word entrepreneur in his talk “Origin and Art of Entrepreneurship.” In his second TOM Talk following a presentation last year about the impact of a Greek Orthodox Archbishop on the Civil Right Movement, history major Jonathan considered the relationship between the church and environmental science in his talk “The Green Patriarch: Bridging the Gap between Science and Religion.”

The students have enthusiasm for the subjects they discussed that informed the atmosphere of the event. Michelle recounted a moving story of a patient who thought all hope for recovery was lost before finding chiropractic care that healed her. Nathan shared some of his own business ventures, like selling headphones with a philanthropic tie to donate 10 percent of proceeds to charities based on their colors, and Jonathan told his own story of meeting the Green Patriarch as an infant, showing his personal connection to the topic.

“One of the reasons I wanted to do this was to call attention to entrepreneurial studies as well as break the barrier that some people may have that prevent them from identifying as an entrepreneur,” Nathan said. “It’s important for students to feel empowered in areas they feel strong in, and to convey that knowledge and passion to others.”

The wide range of subjects allowed the event to be engaging and informative on multiple levels.

“Every talk we are performing this year, and in years past, is different,” Jonathan said. “Having variety and diversity in the talks is critical for getting everyone talking about important issues. It may even inspire them to take up their own initiatives and want to explain something that they’re passionate about.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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