TED Fellows + Matt Scott
When I was growing up, at 7 or 8 years old, when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I’d grew up, I’d secretly think to myself, “I know what I’m going to be when I grow up; I’m going to be a Power Ranger!” We’d pretend to be Rangers on the playground at recess and I would spend time daydreaming in my backyard of when that day would come. The evil super villain Rita Repulsa would finally land in my hometown, as she did in Angel Grove, and I would be compelled to action, defending West Orange, New Jersey in a valiant battle. At some point, I realized that Power Ranger wasn’t a job beyond Hollywood casting calls. Still, in the back of my head, I knew that somehow, someway, this whole superhero thing couldn’t be that far-fetched.
While my love affair with superheroes raged on, evolving from X-Men to professional wrestling to The Defenders, I began a journey to discover heroes in our own world today. I became enamored with our world’s biggest problems and the work that people could do to address these seemingly indomitable challenges. This hit me the hardest during my freshman year of college when, in my first few weeks, I learned that 1 in 4 women on a college campus would be sexually assaulted. To me, this was an epidemic that needed to be tackled, but, in 2010, the outcry was still building to the advocacy and action we see today. It was in that moment that I discovered my superpower, a superpower through which I'd be exposed to countless real-world superheroes worldwide, serving as my own version of superhuman journalists like Peter Parker and Clark Kent.
After initially focusing my energy exclusively on campus sexual violence (including helping tell the story of the epidemic on NPR, Cosmopolitan and more), I began to realize that stories of innovation and change -- in the same vein as TED-- had the power to inspire others to make an impact. 7 years later and I've experienced the power of storytelling, whether using it to help drive the Federal Communications Commission to modernize internet in schools by $1.5B, to bring together thousands throughout the U.S. and tens of thousands worldwide to problem-solve for resilient communities and a healthier planet, and to connect 2000+ teachers nationwide to teach their students to make the most of the technology at their fingertips, as recognized by a bipartisan U.S. Senate Resolution.
Now, my goal is to use my real-world superpower of storytelling to assist potential changermakers in making an impact for the betterment of our world by discovering their own real-world superpowers. Through 180º of Impact and SecondMuse, I am beginning to plant the seeds for that impact. This is only the beginning and I would love for the TED Fellows program to be part of that journey.