An Experience of A Lifetime – Becoming A Student Speaker for TEDxBU

Join Devina as she recalls her life-changing euphoria as a TEDx Speaker at Boston University!

Join Devina as she recalls her life-changing euphoria as a TEDx Speaker at Boston University!


“On behalf of the TEDxBU team,

Congratulations! We’re excited to officially conclude our speaker selection process and host our first-ever, hybrid student/professional TEDxBU event in collaboration with the Howard Thurman Center.”

Wait, what? A soon-to-be TEDx student speaker?

I was just an ordinary student, in my junior year, participating in IISMA at Boston University. The next thing I know, my face was uploaded on YouTube as a Speaker for TEDx.

A little background about me, I was living my best life throughout my time in Boston. My routine seemed the same, but every day seems like a new perfect day. It starts with waking up at 7 am, working out at the gym, exploring the city, attending my classes, eating dinner in the dining hall, hanging out with my friends, and going to bed. That was probably my routine every day.

Every week, we had to take a mandatory COVID test which was held in Boston University’s Howard Thurman Center. Other than a testing venue, it is also a place where they host events, workshops, and discussions. I was intrigued to get to know more about those activities and decided to join the mailing list.

One time, when I was scrolling through my email, I saw an opening for student speakers for TedxBU. At first, I was unbothered since I thought to myself, “Why would I even try? TEDx is always filled with experts who know what they are talking about. What will I say on stage”? However, after days passed by, my mind was still stuck to the email. I was contemplating whether I should try or not. My thought has shifted to “What is wrong with trying? I’ve got nothing to lose. This would be similar to why I wanted to apply for IISMA. You’ll never know.” At that moment, I decided to fill out the registration form.

The form requires me to write down a topic that I would be interested in talking about. As a person who loves to write, I quickly skimmed my journal. After reading some reflections, a lot of times I found that I frequently compare myself to others. “I wish I could be like … because of …” was one of the examples that were written in my journal. On the last day of registration, I submitted my application.

To be honest, I didn’t think too much about it. I know there will be a lot of applicants, and I was sure my lack of experience will probably hinder me from this opportunity. Also, I was already planning for my Disneyland vacation with my friends, which turned out to be the same date as the main event for TEDx.

One night, I got an email that stated that I was invited for an interview. I couldn’t believe it. Being invited for the interview was quite an achievement for me since I didn’t know I could be selected out of the applying participants. Well, it’s just like how I had the IISMA interview. The feeling was pretty much like that.

To prepare for the interview, I had to write a draft of my talk. I read a lot to look for some inspiration. I also talked to some friends about the relevance of the topic. Me not wanting anyone to know about it, I told them I was researching a writing draft for class. Well, it was partially true, though. Ha-ha.

At the interview, I met one of the organizers for TEDxBU, Marcus. He asked me a lot of questions regarding my background and my topic. It honestly didn’t feel like an interview, as he was super chill and friendly. After my interview, I was relieved and continued my day. I remembered rewarding myself with a trip to the mall.

A couple of days later, I received an email that stated that I was chosen as one of the speakers for TEDxBU. No cap, my heart dropped. I opened my email during lunch, and I remembered not continuing my meal. Shocked, scared, and excited were the three words that described how I felt after opening my email. alone at that time. At first, I wanted to keep it as a surprise and still not tell any of my friends as I wanted to keep it as a surprise. However, since we were planning to go to Orlando on the day of the TEDx, I had to make changes to the travels.

“Would you mind changing the travel dates to Orlando?” I asked my friends, but they have no idea what happened. This reminded me of when I announced my IISMA to my parents. “Mom, Dad, do you mind if I graduate a little later?” At that time, they too didn’t know that I had been preparing my application for IISMA. When I broke the news, my friends were as elated as I was. I was fortunate to have supportive friends that have helped me throughout the journey.

Never had I felt so on edge while preparing for my talk. My preparation was filled with making tons of revisions to what I had to say and practicing how I presented my topic to the crowd. A week before my talk, I completely isolated myself from my friends. For the whole week, I didn’t meet any of my friends since I thought to myself that no socializing means more time to practice. My routine was just to practice, practice, and practice. Looking back, I guess it was a bit unhealthy that I was pushing too hard on myself.

A day before the show, I was stressing out badly that I didn’t want to get out of the room. Someone was able to persuade me to get out and took me to the best hot chocolate in Boston. To the person mentioned in this paragraph (you know who you are), thank you ☺ That’s for the intermezzo. Let’s continue with the story.

D-Day finally comes. I woke up, got dressed, and took a bus to the venue. Throughout the morning, I put my headphones on and played positive affirmations to calm down my nerves. I arrived at the venue 30 minutes early, then took the time for final rehearsal, sound check, and touch-up my makeup before going on stage. The show is about to start.

I was the fifth speaker to talk during the event. The night before, I told myself to practice during the others’ speeches. However, I can’t seem to focus anymore. I decided to listen to what the other speaker had to say. My eyes were also glued to the room as I saw more than 100 people had attended the event. I saw my friends too, who were sitting on the right wing of the room. I waved them hello and they replied by signaling a good luck gesture.

“Please welcome the next speaker, Devina.” My heart was racing, and I could hear my heart beating like crazy. Everything that I have been rehearsing goes down to this point. I took a deep breath and prayed before reciting my speech.

Inspired by the word ‘Disney’, I developed a method called the DCE which I apply to myself in dealing with social comparison. Those three components are:

  1. “Defining your own success”: What success looks like to one person might be different from another’s view. An individual must have a clear definition of what he/she wants to achieve in their life.
  2. “Create your opportunities”: Don’t just wait for the things that you want to come to you, but you need to be actively chasing them. Write down the SMART goals and commit to the actions required to achieve success.
  3. “Enjoying the journey”: The process to attain success is way more important than the outcome itself. Rather than spending the time comparing your struggles with others’ success, invest the time in focusing on yourself.

I received a long applause after my speech. Little did they know that I had forgotten some parts of my speech. Well, it happened. At that moment, all I could do was feel proud of myself and proud to be the only Indonesian speaker at the event. The audience and fellow speakers also affirmed me saying that my performance was flawless, which I was grateful for.

I know that I still have so much to learn regarding the way I speak in public. This opportunity is just the beginning of more great things to come in the future (hopefully!). The journey was memorable, and I wouldn’t forget it for the rest of my life. The day ended pretty well as my friends took me to a small celebration where we all had dinner together. To de-stress after the chaotic weeks, I flew to Orlando for my Disneyland trip the next day.

Created by: Devina Faustanisa Nursyah Wibowo

Devina is a driven psychology student at the University of Indonesia. She has developed an interest in Education and aspires to become a change agent of education in the future. Other than excelling in her academics, she has also been actively involved in various organizations. She is currently the Director of Mentorship for the IISMA Alumni Club.

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