Dr. Marisa Franco
A professor at the University of Maryland, Dr. Marisa Franco teaches courses on loneliness and friendship. She dives into the importance of networking authentically, using technology to foster connections, and how minoritized students can find belonging. She covers in detail why students may feel lonely and offers takeaways that help them learn how to make robust and meaningful friendships that will support their mental health.
Will Schwalbe and Chris Maxey
Will Schwalbe and Chris Maxey share the story of their improbable college friendship. Two opposite people with contrasting backgrounds and circles of friends, classics major Schwalbe and wrestling champion Maxey formed an unlikely friendship through mandatory dinners and confessional autobiographical presentations, connecting across divides and differences. In their relatable talk, they offer a rare view of male friendship.
Bo Seo demonstrates how good arguments can help students bridge differences on our campuses and build long-lasting friendships. In a time of polarization, he shares vital lessons from the world of competitive debate on how to view disagreements from the opposing perspective, to listen actively, and to disagree with respect, and provides his audience with a range of tools they can use to better communicate with their fellow classmates.
As a person who has stuttered his entire life, John Hendrickson shares his story of isolation, bullying, depression, and acceptance. He teaches students how to be better listeners in a society largely unprepared to accommodate people who behave outside of certain norms (in this case, those who stutter) and urges them to be patient listeners and just hear what someone has to say.
Struggling with depression, anxiety, and growing up in poverty, Emi Nietfeld often found herself struggling to hide taboo subjects from admissions committees. In reality, no one is entering college and leaving their identity behind. She shares her mental health journey with practical lessons on how students can address their emotional well-being as they navigate higher education.
Dr. Simran Jeet Singh
Growing up in South Texas, Dr. Simran Jeet Singh has been subjected to racism his whole life. He shares how he is able to reach beyond his own comfort zones and provides insights and tips that have led him to find a crucial balance and avoid falling into the toxic trap of hate and anger. Drawing from his personal experiences and hate incidents, he reveals his wisdom on what it really takes to choose love over hate.