TEDxNorthwesternUinQatar brought the spirit of TED’s mission of "ideas worth spreading" to campus through powerful talks from students Yassine Ouahrani and Mariam Al Dhubhani, alumnus Shakeeb Asrar, and Professor Susan Dun.

NU-Q alumna Jueun Choi's performance on the violin welcomed guests into the Projection Theatre where Dean Everette E. Dennis introduced the theme of the night -- the concept of the outlier.

“TEDx takes off from TED which discusses big, global themes and pervasive human condition issues, to focus on a local level that will stimulate discussion in a community,” he said. “We are very proud to host this event at NU-Q.” 

Student Yassine Ouahrani began the discussion by defining an outlier as an independently-thinking individual capable of influence. Offering various figures in the Quran as examples, he stated that those such as Abraham and King David affected change because they challenged the status quo. “We cannot make a change being copycats. We can only make change by being outliers,” Ouahrani said. 

Senior Mariam Al-Dhubhani similarly defined the term, describing herself as an outlier of the war in Yemen, which she escaped by relocating to Qatar. Sharing moments of immense sadness, Al-Dhubhani disclosed how she learned to see her challenges as "blessings in disguise." 

Alumnus Shakeeb Asrar provided a new perspective on the topic in an address he titled "Working for the Outlier." Asrar, who has interned at USA Today and was a journalist at Al Jazeera Media Network, warned students not to "fall into the trap of defining success by brand names." Asrar explained that working in Qatar Foundation's marketing department taught him more about journalism than any job before it, because it allows him to be more involved. "Where you are doing [the work] should never be more important than what you are doing," he said.

Finally, Professor Susan Dun advised audiences against an outlier status defined by riches and fame. Dun named famous actors, singers, tech moguls, and others that might conventionally be considered as successful and asked audiences, "Should we aspire to this?" She made the case that we shouldn't. Holding individuals like Mark Zuckerberg or Serena Williams to very high esteem, she said, causes individuals to "unfairly compare themselves to 20 percent of the world who achieved success with much more than just hard work," she said, adding that luck and timing have a disproportionate impact on one's success. 

Launched in 2009, TEDx is a program of locally organized events that bring the community together to share a TED-like experience. Some of the best talks from TEDx events have gone on to be featured on TED.com and received millions of views from audiences across the globe.

TEDxNorthwesternUinQatar is an independently organized TEDx conference to be held annually at NU-Q. Members of the university's faculty, staff, and students representing NU-Q supported the event. TEDxNorthwesternUinQatar is supported by Northwestern's Office of the President, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, McCormick School of Engineering, Buffett Institute for Global Studies, Panhellenic Association, InclusionNU, and Department of Undergraduate Research.