TEDxUCLA May 15th, 2021

For those that joined us live, thank you for attending! We will be posting the talks to TED’s TEDx channel, and adding the short performances and bios to this website.  Thank you to the incredible speakers, performers and volunteers.

Dr. Laura Ritchie

Yes, I Can! Use the positive power of self-efficacy


What does it mean to have agency and where does this come from? Academic researcher and musician, Dr. Laura Ritchie, demonstrates how self-efficacy and taking charge of your thinking are key ingredients to enacting your agency.



Dr Laura Ritchie is Professor of Learning and Teaching at the University of Chichester, UK. She is vibrant in her teaching, research, music-making, and in life; she embodies a ‘yes’ attitude.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and inspires people to realize their goals through positive achievement and reach beyond their dreams.  

Laura is a chartered Psychologist and has published and presented internationally, in North and South America and across Europe. Laura’s teaching is heavily influenced by her research into people’s self-beliefs and cognitive processes as they learn and perform/carry out tasks. Her research focuses on self-efficacy beliefs (a person’s self-beliefs in their capabilities to do a particular task) and metacognitive processes. Her recent book Yes I Can: Learn to use the Power of Self-efficacy is a practical and personal book about self-efficacy, strategic thinking, and recognising possibility in order to adopt the yes of self-efficacy into daily life.

Laura has devised both undergraduate and postgraduate curricula, including the first bespoke undergraduate music pedagogy degree in the UK and the MA Music courses at Chichester and a postgraduate course for the European String Teachers Association. Laura’s musical background is as a classical cellist, originally training in Chicago with Hans Jensen before she came to the UK. As a musician Laura spans genres and has performed both as a classical recitalist and as a member of The Mummers on Jools Holland and at Glastonbury.

Kitty Felde

Books Are My Super Power…And They Can Be Yours, Too


How to use books to open the door to rich conversations with kids about their lives, their hopes and dreams, and their insights about how to save the universe.



Public Radio Veteran and Podcast Producer

Kitty Felde is the host and executive producer of the award-winning Book Club for Kids podcast. She also writes and produces the episodic Fina Mendoza Mysteries podcast. Kitty is an award-winning public radio veteran, named Journalist of the Year three times by the Society of Professional Journalists and the LA Press Club. Kitty also writes kids books and plays that have been produced around the world. Until the world shut down, her one-person show about Quentin Roosevelt was performed every weekend as a tour around the White House.

Nikita Gupta

Helping the Helper: How to support others without burning out.


Looking at the the power of helping others in distress and taking care of yourself in the process.



Nikita Gupta, MPH specializes in designing and implementing Resilience and Trauma Healing programs in educational as well as public and private settings. She is a recognized leader, coach and educator and has worked nationally with many diverse communities, educational leaders and professional helpers. She supports service-based organizations such as UCLA, Somatic Experiencing International, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Her work is rooted in practices of personal empowerment and community healing and she is dedicated to creating spaces of connection, belonging and transformation. Nikita is also a long-time Yoga Teacher and Meditation Facilitator who received her Master’s in Public Health from UCLA. Through training, coaching and consultation, she aspires to uplift the collective in bravely moving through the unknown, while finding joy and satisfaction in each day. For more information, visit www.NikitaGupta.com.

Harmony Grillo

The Oldest Oppression in the Book


Prostitution has often been referred to as “the oldest profession in the book.” And there is a growing movement to further legitimize and normalize prostitution as a profession through full decriminalization. Is prostitution just a job? Harmony Grillo, a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation explores the ramifications of decriminalization.



Survivor of exploitation turned UCLA honor student, Harmony’s goal is to help women and girls entrenched in sexual exploitation find freedom.

Armed with personal experience, evidence-based theories and a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare, she comprehensively sheds light on the impact of a pornified culture and the lives of those trapped within it. Her pursuit of justice has led to Congressional recognition and opportunities to train the Department of Justice and FBI in best practices. In 2003, she founded Treasures to support other women in their recovery from the commercial sex industry and trafficking.

Harmony’s memoir, Scars and Stilettos, details her harrowing account of moving from victim to survivor to liberator.

Devin Mallory

The power of authenticity

Passion. Dance. Growth. Navigating passion through dance amidst the positive, the negative, and the introspective




Hi! My name is Devin Mallory, I am 20 years old, and I am a third year Dance major, with a minor in Food Studies and Nutrition. I come from a biracial upbringing through African American and Filipino culture, which has posed many conflicts in finding my identity growing up. Facing adversity at a young age, as well, my upbringing served as a time in maturing quickly. I was led down a path of depression and anxiety through struggles with my schooling, family, and my self-identity. At the age of 10, I found a love and passion for dance. Dance became an outlet for expression that I was not initially exposed to during such negatives times in my childhood. 


I found it difficult in existing as who I was, while learning the ways society type casted me, attempting to restrict me from the person I strived to become. Growing up as a male dancer, I was faced with many different opinions in how I was perceived, being a cis gendered male engaging in a female dominant sport, dance. Breaking the pattern of gender normalities posed a threat to the patriarchal system we live in. Today I advocate for those who want to chase their passions, no matter the social stigmas that may be attached to such behaviors. Over the years, I’ve learned we all deserve the freedom in chasing our passions as long as they do not combat another’s freedoms. 

George Shenusay

The Story of Turning Plastic into Food


Plastic pollution and food insecurity are two of the most pressing social and environmental challenges we face today. Luckily for us, some of our small insect friends are willing and able to help us find solutions. 



George Shenusay is a brooklynite who accidentally inbred thousands of mealworms in middle school and has now found himself here giving a talk about these worms. He’s currently studying environmental science at UCLA and working on a research team with a focus on mealworms and their ability to eat plastic. In his free time he grafts citrus trees, plays his trumpet, and fishes for carp in the LA river.