skip to main content
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Mississippi

Carolyn Freiwald Gives TEDx Talk

Fifth Annual TEDx Event Set for Feb. 29

tedx logo

The fifth annual TEDxUniversityofMississippi conference is slated for Saturday (Feb. 29) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, bringing together a diverse group of speakers on topics such as politics, race in the South, preventing heart disease, music, community development and more.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., a lineup of 13 speakers with diverse backgrounds will take the stage, each sharing their unique story in 8-to-12-minute presentations. Since its beginning in 2015, this student-led event has produced 34 videos of speakers’ talks, reaching more than 1.2 million views on YouTube.

This year’s conference is set up to be a night complete with engaging conversation, live music from local groups and a welcoming community that fosters innovation and discussion.

“I am looking forward to challenging the community to think outside the box, while engaging those thirsty for knowledge,” said Kendal Outwater, a junior managerial finance major and TEDx committee member. “I believe TEDxUniversityofMississippi will unite every demographic in a positive light.”

Various university organizations and departments are supporting this year’s event through sponsorships, including the Department of Writing and Rhetoric, which was among the first to commit to making the 2020 conference possible.

“The Department of Writing and Rhetoric is proud to support the students who organize TEDx at the university,” said Stephen Monroe, the department’s chair. “This annual event infuses our campus with new ideas and showcases innovations happening within our intellectual community.”

The event also feature will live music from the Mississippians Jazz Ensemble, directed by Michael Worthy; the choirs of the Lafayette County School District, directed by Hannah Gadd Ardrey; and the Oxford High School choirs, directed by Thomas Ardrey.

Tickets, available through the Ole Miss Box Office, are $10 for students, faculty and the general public. For more information about this event or TEDxUniversityofMississippi, visit or email

Featured speakers for this year’s event are:

  • Dr. Warrick Bishop, a cardiologist, best-selling author and keynote speaker for this year’s conference, will discuss his passion for helping prevent heart disease on a global scale. Warrick believes the more precise one can be in obtaining information regarding a patient’s heart health and heart attack risk, the better they can be treated. This simplistic methodology is relatively new and not broadly utilized within the medical community, but Warrick hopes to enable this change.
  • Beth Ann Fennelly, poet laureate of Mississippi, teaches in the UM creative writing program. Her work as an author of poetry and literature has earned her several prestigious awards and has been included three times in The Best American Poetry Series. Her most recent book, “Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-memoirs,” was named an Atlanta Journal Constitution Best Book of 2017.
  • Donald Guillory is a UM doctoral student whose focus is on race, gender and identity in the history of the United States and Latin America. Before coming to Ole Miss, Guillory served in the U.S Army and earned his bachelor’s degree in international studies and history, as well as a master’s in history and another in education and liberal studies, focusing on the role that film and television play in shaping our perspectives about culture, race and gender.
  • Hannah Gadd Ardrey is a teacher of music history and choir to middle- and high-school students in the Lafayette County School District. After partnering with special education teachers in the district to launch the More than Music program, a student-led music class for elementary special education students, Ardrey has grown the choral program and continues to cultivate a climate for students of growth and acceptance among their peers and within the community.
  • Fernando Arroyo Lopez, the founder, developer and CEO of a sustainable boutique hotel in Mexico and a UM doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, is passionate about research in hospitality design and development through a sustainable lens to influence social development, poverty and inequality. Lopez believes in better, just and developed communities through responsible tourism and the hope of improved public policies.
  • Ruth Sherman is a former commercial singer and announcer who works with CEOs, public figures and international celebrities looking to have a greater impact in their public communications. Focusing on presidential candidate communication, she is widely quoted in multiple platforms of press and has five Oscar-winning clients and one Pulitzer Prize winner. Sherman’s most recent book “SPEAKERETS: the 30 Best, Most Effective, Most Overlooked Marketing & Personal Branding Essentials” will be a highlight of her talk.
  • Stephen Fafulas is assistant professor of Spanish and linguistics in the Department of Modern Languages. He is director of the Study of Communities, Involvement and Outreach and Linguistics Laboratory, where he mentors students conducting community-engaged research. Fafulas focuses on training students to observe linguistic phenomena through interdisciplinary perspectives and inspiring them to excel in future careers.
  • Areesha Razi, a senior at Ocean Springs High School who spent the first three years of her life in Karachi, Pakistan, is principal horn player for the Ocean Springs Wind Symphony and has performed at national events. Her goal is to become a physician and specialize in surgery.
  • Muriel Collins, a Union native, is a first-year student in the UM School of Law. She received a bachelor’s in political science at Mississippi College and was chosen to present to the Mississippi Communications Association as an undergraduate panel speaker in 2017. Collins interned for U.S. Rep. Steve Palazzo and worked on the campaign staff for Mississippi attorney general candidate Mark Baker. She will discuss ways to encourage women to pursue careers in politics.
  • Carolyn Freiwald, a UM associate professor of sociology and anthropology, is an archaeologist studying ancient migration across the Americas, from Mayan royalty to buccaneers off the coast of Belize, and stretching all the way to the rural farmers of Mississippi. Freiwald won the College of Liberal Arts New Scholar Award in 2019 and traveled to Japan, Canada, France and Belize to share stories from the past and what they can teach us about migration today.
  • Wayne and Shirley Gray are both UM faculty members. Wayne Gray teaches microbiology and virology. Committed to reducing threats of infectious diseases, his research includes developing and testing vaccines against viruses, including HIV. Shirley Gray brings more than 30 years of teaching, storytelling and writing experience to the classroom as an instructor of writing and rhetoric. Guided by curiosity, she works closely with students, academic and community leaders to help develop ideas that energize others and transform lives through writing and the art of effective communication.
  • Mitch Campbell is a Memphis native who has spent the last 30 years as a top performer in the financial services industry, working for some of the nation’s largest banks focusing on corporate finance and commercial banking. Before that, Campbell taught middle and high school students in gifted programs and creative writing out of trailers in rural Mississippi. He also drove school busses and managed a bar on weeknights.