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TEDxDU Xpress luncheons to spotlight overcoming adversity

What do a professor, an injured hockey star and an ex-con have in common? They’re all experts in overcoming adversity.

And they’ll all be part of a series of student-organized luncheons called TEDxDU Xpress. The first event, themed “Overcoming Adversity,” will feature three speakers in short TED-style talks. Speakers include DU Professor Kim Gorgens, DU hockey player Jesse Martin and DU student Joe Monteith.

“We have compiled a fantastic group of speakers to share their experiences with confronting difficult challenges in life,” says Parker Calbert, a sophomore political science and public policy major from Denver who is organizing the luncheon series.

The first TEDxDU Xpress luncheon will take place at noon on Jan. 20 in Ruffato Hall. Participants must register by midnight Jan. 18 by e-mailing

Gorgens is a professor in DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology and teaches principally in the areas of psychophysiology and criminal behavior. She has been involved with a Colorado state legislative taskforce drafting a concussion management bill and also serves on the Colorado Brain Injury Legislative Committee. From TEDxDU’s exposure, she has gained momentum for her quest to educate people about the need to take the time to recover and the dangers of subsequent concussions. Gorgens was one of 17 presenters at the University of Denver’s inaugural TEDx event in May 2010.

Martin began playing hockey at the age of four. Martin played AAA hockey in Edmonton for 13 years before participating for one year in the Alberta Junior League. Additionally, Martin was drafted to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006 and played for the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League from 2006–07. In September 2007, Martin began attending the University of Denver and currently serves as an alternate captain for the Pioneers. Martin is an accomplished three-year letter winner and a three-year WCHA academic award winner. His hockey career was altered by a serious neck injury during a game against North Dakota in October.

Monteith spent three and a half years in a federal prison after an eight-month-long investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency. He was found guilty for possession with the intent to distribute cocaine then sentenced to five years in prison with five years of probation. At 24, he was an illiterate inmate. After learning how to read and write using a dictionary, Monteith realized the importance of knowledge. Today, in a story of remarkable transformation, he is first undergraduate to be hired as a lead discipline tutor for DU’s Learning Effectiveness Program and is pursuing degrees in economics and finance with minors in statistics and management. He also gives ethical and motivational speeches at schools and colleges.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” At TED conferences, leading scientists, philosophers, entrepreneurs and artists present their ideas in 18 minutes or less. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. DU will host its second local event — TEDxDU— on May 13.




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