Winner of Student Speaker Auditions unveiled


Gizelle Lao was declared the winner of this year’s TEDxRyersonU Student Speaker Auditions. (Janelle Jordan / Ryersonian Staff)

Third-year sociology major Gizelle Lao was declared winner of the third annual TEDxRyersonU student speaker competition on Thursday.

Thirteen students were given three minutes each to discuss their “ideas worth spreading” in the hopes of becoming the next student speaker at the upcoming TEDxRyersonU conference.

Lao’s talk tackled the “false stigma” attached to emotional expression by men compared to women.

She said when they express emotions, men are considered “weak and vulnerable,” whereas women are thought to be “taking things out of proportion.”

“But, the last time I checked, emotions weren’t a gendered characteristic — they were a human characteristic,” she said. “And if they are a human characteristic embedded within all of us, why don’t we utilize it? Why don’t we utilize our emotions to open our minds…to allow us to think outside of the box?”

The other speakers took on a range of topics, including: mental illness, millennials and narcissism, global income inequality and photo manipulation on social media.

One judge, Amanda Watson, president of Ryerson’s Professional Communication Course Union, said that it was Lao’s passion that led her to victory.

“She was very into her topic, and her delivery was so memorable. It engaged the audience entirely. It was just fantastic,” Watson said.

Lao said that it was “so scary” to get on stage. She recalled a speaking competition she participated in last year that didn’t go as she had hoped.

“I did this event called Ryerson’s Next Top Speaker, and I hate to admit it, but I ran off the stage in fear,” she said. “I got back on, but I ran off because I was stricken by nervousness.”

She says that winning this competition makes up for that incident.

“Winning this definitely means something. I feel like I’ve not only redeemed myself, but I’ve improved,” she said.

The theme for the auditions was the same as last year’s TEDxRyersonU’s conference: “361 Degrees: A New Angle.”

Lao will be giving a talk at TEDxRyersonU’s official conference in November.

With files from Zachary Dodds.

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