New organization looks to expand number, variety of speakers on campus

Nashwa Bawab

A new wave of speakers will come to campus thanks to Speak, a new organization that already has a list of high-profile individuals scheduled to speak in the fall, according to the organization’s president.  

Students organized Speak as a way to get students involved in bringing high-profile speakers to campus. Before the club’s conception, Andrew Watts, president of the club and management information systems sophomore, was involved in bringing speakers such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel to campus.  

Watts said the organization will teach those who join how to design and develop these events from beginning to end.

“This goes from contacting speakers all the way to managing volunteers on the day of the event,” Watts said. “Students will get hands-on experience by working with others, leading teams and developing marketing strategies.” 

No application is needed to join, according to Amanda Barrington, corporate communications junior and vice president of National Speaking Events. Barrington said she and Watts designed the organization to be as inclusive as possible. 

“The one thing that we both agreed on when we were talking about Speak becoming a thing at UT was the inclusive and exclusive parts of organizations on campus,” Barrington said. “We really wanted to make it open to the whole campus so everyone could get involved in the entrepreneurial community and the entrepreneurial scene.” 

Speak aims to bring a large and diverse group of leaders to campus, according to Sierra Salinas, business freshman and vice president of internal communications.  She said the current line-up of speakers are business-related, but the lineup has potential to expand and to include professors, authors, athletes, scientists and artists. 

“I think the most exciting thing about this organization is knowing that our options are limitless,” Salinas said. “The more people we get, the more comfortable we will feel reaching out to companies or individuals, and the more variety we will be able to have in the future.” 

Speak’s future line-up includes Yik-Yak co-founders and the senior director of digital and social marketing for Taco Bell. Speak’s long-term future depends on those who decide to join, Watts said. 

“I hope people are encouraged to join because they have a crazy idea for a speaker to come to campus and have the drive to make that event happen,” Watts said. “This can help the organization go beyond just being simply a speaking-events-oriented club, but more of a community for students to take part in.”