By: Sean Newhouse – Contributing Writer
Viral sensation Ash Beckham spoke to UD students on Thursday in Sears Auditorium as the keynote speaker for “Community Means Everyone Week.”
Beckham is known for her TED talks and public speeches, discussing topics such as inclusivity, communication and her experience as a lesbian. Her videos have amassed more than eight million views on YouTube.
Her speech at Sears was entitled “Give Voice to Your Truth.” Beckham used personal anecdotes, scientific data and audience polls to create an engaging and interactive experience for those who attended.
She began by stating the importance of diversity and inclusivity and their benefits to businesses.
Workplaces with ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns than their respective national industry medians. Companies with gender diversity are 15 percent more likely.
She personalized the statistics by saying, for example, she should feel comfortable displaying a picture of her and her wife in her office cubicle. If she isn’t, she likely won’t bring her full capability to the business.
Beckham further encouraged the audience to promote inclusivity through compassion, individuality, courage and grace.
She demonstrated these values through personal stories, such as her desire to be a Notre Dame football player as a child for Halloween (her parents forced her to be a cheerleader) and her fear of being mistaken for the wrong gender in public bathrooms.
In talking about compassion, she recounted her sister’s wedding where she experienced multiple awkward conversations as she had recently come out of the closet. For instance, one of her parent’s friends asked Beckham if she knew her hairdresser Antonio or had ever been to San Francisco.
Initially, Beckham wanted to make fun of them but instead she decided to acknowledge they were trying. This was new for them.
She told the audience they are not responsible for their first thought, but they are responsible for their first action.
Sophomores Sabrina Mauro and Gabrielle Glomb appreciated Beckham’s speech.
“I expected this speech to be a self-love talk about accepting yourself and others…but soon learned it was about something much deeper and more meaningful than I expected,” said Mauro, an engineering technologies major.
Glomb, a marketing major, agreed.
“I hope our community can become more as one through inclusion.”
Photos taken from Beckham’s Instagram and udayton.edu