It was the opportunity of a lifetime for Springfield College student Jasmine Jiles. She stood in front of about 250 people, all of whom were eagerly awaiting her closing speech at the “TED x Springfield” event, which took place in the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield on Friday, Oct. 18.
Jiles, a sophomore English major with a minor in Music and Theater, came upon this unique opportunity through her internship at the MassMutual Center last summer. She worked for the center’s community responsibility department, helping the schools of Springfield. All interns were encouraged to submit an idea for a TED Talk speech, which are presented at conferences held to share “ideas worth spreading” according to the TED Talks site.
“We had to present a three-minute speech all around the topic [of] ‘My vision for Springfield,’” Jiles said.
Taking on the task to develop a three-minute trial TED Talk speech wasn’t easy, but eventually Jiles came up with her speech and called it, “Feed Your Heart, Empower Your City.” Jiles submitted her idea hoping that she would do well, but never expected to be the one chosen for such an honor.
“I won for the college interns, so that means I had to take that three-minute speech, turn it into 15 minutes and close out the entire TED event. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It was great to win, but it was also a very daunting task.”
Being a native of Springfield, Jiles feels as though it is important for the youth of Springfield to understand that no matter how tough the situation might be, you can always overcome it.
Jiles’ idea was centered on a festival that would take her “Feed Your Heart” idea and turn it into a tangible opportunity for the citizens that would motivate and inspire kids of Springfield to picture themselves as more than just average kids.
“Because I am from Springfield and have such big dreams, why shouldn’t everyone else?” stated Jiles. “I hear so many people talk about how they need to get out of the city, it is such a bad place and there is no way for them to shine, and I am thinking, ‘What kind of mindset is that to have?’ One of the things I said is that there isn’t enough inspiration, motivation or pushes in the right direction for the youths of today.”
After her successful TED Talk, Jiles has earned a spot as a youth ambassador for the city’s new “Springfield Stands” campaign, which supports many of the values that Jiles feels so strongly about.
“With the whole TED event and the connections I made, I have found people who are willing to help me get the festival in place [for the “Springfield Stands” campaign],” Jiles said.
As a child of Springfield as well as a student of Springfield College, Jiles feels strongly about the success of youth from the city, and with her own recent success Jiles truly believes that no matter where you come from you should always take a chance at your dreams.
“Don’t be afraid to go out and jump out at any opportunity you possibly can to make a difference or make a change, because that is what is most important in the world,” said Jiles.