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Find out more about the TEDxTexasStateUniversity 2016 speakers below:

Colter Ray

Colter Ray is a two-time graduate of Texas State University (BA Public Relations, 2011; MA Communication Studies, 2014) and is currently completing a doctorate of communication at Arizona State University. His journey toward a career in education began in part to the help of several key mentors he encountered while involved in student organizations at Texas State. The wisdom these mentors instilled has guided Colter both personally and professionally since his time in San Marcos. Particularly, one mentor’s insistence on building a life based on the foundation of helping others has inspired Colter to research how people support each other through tough life transitions and personal health crises such as a cancer diagnosis. 

Yasmin Diallo Turk


Yasmin Diallo Turk is the CPS & Family Violence Safety Policy Analyst for SafePlace, an Austin, TX-based nonprofit agency serving domestic/sexual violence survivors, where she has worked for over 15 years. She also serves as Project Director for HOPE for Senegal (a project of the H.O.P.E. Campaign), and teaches as an adjunct instructor in the Huston-Tillotson University’s Adult Degree Program.  In addition to her volunteer roles in Austin’s Muslim community, Ms. Turk is a member of the Citizen Review Team for the Department of Family and Protective Services, the KLRU Community Advisory Board, and the Sisterhood of Salam Shalom.

Ms. Turk holds a BA from Huston-Tillotson University, a Master’s of Global Policy from The University of Texas at Austin, and plans to finish her PhD in Environmental Geography at Texas State University by 2017. She is married with three children ages 14, 9, and 2. 

Olivia O’Hare


Olivia O’Hare is a movement educator who combines her extensive knowledge of improvisational dance, physical theatre, fitness, and somatics to create an unparalleled experience in each class she teaches. She currently acts as the project coordinator for Body Shift (, a mixed-ability dance project based in Austin, TX. The goal of Body Shift is to offer classes and workshops that provide a welcoming environment which empowers people of all abilities to embrace dancing in their own unique way. Olivia completed coursework toward the PhD in Performance as Public Practice at the University of Texas at Austin where she focused on movement theory and analysis of DanceAbility. She also holds a BFA and MA in Theatre Directing from Texas State University and has performed and worked with numerous Austin-based groups such as the Improvisational Movement Project and Actual Lives Austin. In addition to teaching acting, dance improvisation and pilates at the university level, she has worked as a fitness instructor doing athletic and post-rehab training for the past twenty years. Her teaching is informed by a variety of movement modalities including Viewpoints, Body-Mind Centering, Alexander Technique, Franklin Method, DanceAbility, Contact Improvisation, Pilates, Yoga, Gyrokinesis, Primal Movement and Functional Fitness. She believes that body awareness and an understanding of non-verbal communication are an essential part of the human experience and should be made accessible to all people.

Mark Trahan


Mark Trahan, PhD, LCSW, is an assistant professor of Social Work at Texas State University.  Dr. Trahan has spent the last fifteen years working with individuals, families, and couples as a therapist, researcher, and teacher.  His areas of research interest include the role of fathering confidence in father engagement and the use of technology, specifically virtual reality, to assist in creating more confidence in men and fathers.  Dr. Trahan is currently working on research projects with incarcerated men and returning combat soldiers, with future plans to use virtual reality for parenting and communication skills training.  Dr. Trahan enjoys teaching and is passionately engaged in educating social work students.  He loves spending time with his family, mountain biking, fly-fishing, and watching college football.

Daisy Jaimez


Daisy Jaimez is an International Studies major with an Economics minor at Texas State University’s Honors College. She is a determined individual who enjoys learning about global affairs and has a passion for the advancement of hardworking individuals. Female empowerment, immigration, human rights, and economic opportunity are the foundation of the research she conducts.

In her university, Daisy strives to be a strong yet approachable leader who inspires her fellow student body and raises her voice to promote the best interests of her community. Currently, she is Head Delegate of Model Arab League (MAL); an organization that gives her the chance to guide Texas State students in creating resolutions to challenges faced in the Middle East. It was when she went to her first MAL Conference that Daisy discovered her interest in socio-economic development! She is also a Supplemental Instruction Leader for the History Department and tends to get overly-excited about education, so as an SI, facilitating learning permits her to help students and be a part of their academic progress!

When she is not buzzing around campus, you are sure to find her at a coffee shop reading a book, putting flowers on nearly everything she owns, or at a running trail attempting to let Google Fit know she was active for the day.

The self-motivation Daisy possesses enables her to search for opportunities that promote both her personal and professional development. The direction of her career is continuously influenced by her background as the daughter of parents who left their home country in search for the American Dream. Daisy’s career goals revolve around her love for international development, and upon graduation she plans to work at a nonprofit dedicated to promoting economic sustainability in least developed countries. 

Rodney E. Rohde


Whether he’s chasing down viruses like rabies or documenting antibiotic resistant pathogens such as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Dr. Rodney E. Rohde is passionate about the field of microbiology and medical laboratory science. As Professor and Chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program in the College of Health Professions at Texas State University, Dr. Rohde brings his career experiences as a public and clinical microbiologist and infectious disease expert from CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services Bureau of Laboratories and Zoonosis Control to the classroom.  Dr. Rohde is a champion and role model for his students, fellow faculty, professional colleagues and alumni. One of Dr. Rohde's passions is sharing his love for the medical laboratory; another is helping increase the visibility of the medical laboratory profession at the university and beyond. He weaves these values together through advocacy and mentoring. He has been recognized with multiple research and teaching awards of excellence, including being named one of the Top 20 Professors of Clinical Laboratory Science You Should Know and the #urEssential Award from Cardinal Health.

#WeSaveLivesEveryday #TxStCLS #Lab4Life

Adam Odomore


Born and raised in Nigeria, West Africa. Adam graduated with honors with a bachelors in International relations from Texas State University. As an alum from Semester at Sea (Fall 2014) and an aspiring Foreign Service Officer, he is a  patron of that arts- music, visual art, theatre and dance. However, he has a passion helping others find their voice and putting them in places to succeed. For him, with the proper education, he believes that everybody has a chance at a brighter future. He is a feminist and a believer in empowering women and girls through the use of education. As a winner of the Social Innovation Challenge, he have launched a fashion line that will contribute some of its profits to help provide scholarships and grants to boys and girls in developing countries to help them attain an education. His life vision is to help provide education for the future generation, because that is an investment that cannot be taken lightly. When he is not doing that, he can be seen spending time with friends and family; attending music and dance shows and concerts. Lastly, as an artist with an eye for beautiful things and ideas, you can see him making and or collecting art for his priceless collection, all the while looking for the next big thing in investment, innovation, design and technology.   

Johnny Vargas

Johnny Vargas

A natural innovator and creator, Johnny has worked in big data and big oil but has found his most meaningful impact through creating his own robotics academy for kids. A graduate from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Zoology, Mr. Vargas began his career at IBM in the area of automated systems and critical situation management including projects such as Y2K and the Sydney Olympics. He later founded a software development firm specializing in special education software for schools. After a small acquisition, Johnny left the software industry to teach high school advanced physics and chemistry during which time he formed his first robotics team. Returning to software development, he joined the world of big oil and developed real-time analytics dashboards to monitor oil-field efficiency through predictive analytics and events. While pursuing each of these career interests Mr. Vargas volunteered as a student robotics coach and instructor at various grade levels. While searching for his meaning of life, Johnny decided to open a robotics academy for kids and now focuses on positively changing the world by positively influencing children through the world of engineering and robotics projects for kids.