Tutt Talks Aims to Showcase Student Creativity and Insights

On Wednesday at 4 p.m. in McHugh Commons the first ever “Tutt Talk” took place. This initiative will be an annual event put on by the Tutt Team and Speech and Debate Club. It serves as a preview for the myriad of events that will take place next year in the newly constructed library.

Team Tutt’s focus this year has been to create a “fun and whimsical year for those who have to work with limited library services” and to showcase what’s possible with the new building, said Traci Freeman of the Tutt Team.

“Tutt Talk” is part of Team Tutt’s second initiative. “Tutt Talks” are supposed to mimic Ted Talks; they will even have a specially designed space in the new library. However, the idea of a “Tutt Talk” will be different than First Mondays Event Series since all speakers will be students.

“We have such amazing, talented students, and everyone is up to such great stuff outside and in class,” said Freeman, The Tutt Team hopes this will be exemplified by the talks.

The talks are supposed to showcase student talent and serve as a way for students to practice public speaking. Freeman has noticed this is a common fear among students and hopes that this opportunity to speak in a professional yet relaxed setting will ease nerves and establish skills for life after college.

This year, the Tutt Team recruited several students, but as the program becomes better known and established, they hope that students across campus will volunteer for this opportunity.   

The talks are short and engaging, ranging from five to seven minutes. This year’s talk has five speakers, junior Helena Thatcher on “What Could Be?,” sophomore Maggie Mehlman on “Cross-Curricular Creativity,” senior Stefani Messick on “The Letters Teachers Draft While Assigning Your Homework,” junior Trevon Newmann on “Waves of Being: Dance to Create Connections,” and senior Barbara Hanzalova on “Effective Altruism: The Best of Good.”

Additionally, the Speech and Debate Club helps coach the speakers. Director of Forensics and Debate Julian Plaza has been “actively coaching organizing and assisting in how we can envision this program through request of Team Tutt.”

The speech and debate program has played a large part in designing the format of the program. Working from the model of the venture grant, the program aims to showcase presentations that explore diversity in the student body, and showcase diversity of subject matter.

Plaza explained how Ted Talks were initially very formal at their time of conception, very academically and technologically based. However, over the course of time, they have become a more informal forum for people to listen, relax, and gain insight from. “There’s so much potential to translate from an individual’s experience that others can learn from…it’s an inherently human activity,” said Plaza.

The hope is that “Tutt Talks” will become an outlet for many students denied from Venture Grant funding or unable to apply because their topic of interest is not academic enough. In this way, the goal is to provide a more personal way for students to share their talents and passions with the larger community.

As far as coaching goes, Plaza was once a CC student. He realizes the hectic schedule of a college day, especially on the Block Plan, and makes sure that he is available to students as much as possible. “Our students lead incredibly busy lives…so it really has to be done on the student schedule,” said Plaza. “It is important to ensure that they have a timeline where they will not only feel prepared but comfortable and empowered to lead the best presentation they can.”

Plaza agreed that he would like students to volunteer to speak in future Tutt Talks. As someone who teaches communications, he knows the majority of Americans have a fear of public speaking, and students may be hesitant to volunteer. He went on to say that he hopes to see collaborative presentations in the future because people working together is dynamic. In addition, the team leading Tutt Talks will continue to press the breadth of experience that will be covered in these talks.

Tutt and Ted Talks showcase a “wisdom that everyday people after listening to the talk can take away and use in their everyday life,” said Plaza. “It is the hope that this new initiative can inspire some folks. Just like Venture Grants, this could be a very important piece of a CC student’s career.”

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