Shaw University Becomes the Second HBCU to Host a TEDx Talk

 Shaw University becomes the second HBCU to host TEDx speakers. 

Welcome to Shaw University’s TEDx Talk. … This spring, the university became the second HBCU to host a TEDx Talk—with the discussion centering around “how and why the future is female.” Dubbed “Sharing HERstory,” the talk featured two students and a single alum, along with two experts. Talk about some star girl power!

Truly teaming up to ensure a top-tier production, Earfluence, Jewelsmith and NC State volunteered service on the project as well, which, fittingly dropped during Women’s History Month. As we reflect on the momentous event, Raleigh Magazine spoke with Shaw Adjunct Professor and Business Strategist Sybil Stewart, and Sarah Glova, a university instructor and entrepreneur, to dive deeper into how the TEDx Talk came about—and what it means for the university. 

School us on how the talk came to life.

SS: We want to help reinvigorate the academic experience that so many of us had—and these kids don’t have after the pandemic. It’s a challenge to help kids, realizing they still need community. We were sitting in a planning session and I said, ‘Well, I wonder if we should do a TEDx Talk.’ I ran into Sarah Glova at a networking event, and a couple weeks later we were filling out the TEDx application to apply for a license—and we were approved.

How important is female leadership in regards to the future of the university?

SS: It’s huge. I’d say 80% of our business school faculty are women and the majority of us also own our own businesses. We really do try to lead by example, with everything we’re teaching in the classroom applicable to the world. It’s ingrained in how we operate the business school—and it’s part of the culture to make sure we’ve either done everything we’re talking about or know how to do really well.

SG: Shaw University has such a rich history, and a lot of that history includes amazing women who really led the way. If you check out the venue where this was hosted, Estey Hall, the first building built for African American women’s education in the country, that history was there with us. But the dean’s vision and what really happened was the spotlight on the voices who are carrying the future.

What does “Sharing HERstory” mean to you?

SS: First, it’s got to be her story, not his story. … I think [the TEDx event] will hit. And it did hit every single stage of every—not only insecurity—but opportunity that we have as women to remind ourselves that it’s not just us who are going through these emotions. That was the intent: How can I tell a piece of every single woman’s story in a meaningful way and in a way that honors where they are and wherever they are?

SG: How can we use one of the biggest stages available to us, [such as] the TEDx platform, as a way to amplify stories that might not otherwise get heard—and make sure we make a bold statement [that says], ‘Here are women’s stories that everyone could benefit from.’ I think what’s really beautiful is the stories are told by women and centered on women’s experiences.

*Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity

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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.