Ph.D. Student Presents at TedxUGA

Mamie Harper

Mamie Harper – TedxUGA presenter

A voluntary presentation in front of hundreds of people isn’t every student’s dream, but for Mamie Harper, her address is another way to expand her reach and perspective.

Harper, a School of Social Work Ph.D. student, will speak at TEDxUGA 2024 at 7 p.m. Friday, March 29 at the Morton Theatre in Downtown Athens. One of 10 speakers representing an array of backgrounds, Harper is ready to take the stage and motivate others.

“I made a promise to myself that while pursuing this doctoral degree, I will do one thing that challenges me,” Harper said. “One thing that won’t have me stuck in a book but would help me to grow professionally. I’ve wanted to do it, and oddly enough (my presentation) was accepted.”

TEDxUGA is an independently-organized TEDx event that will feature candid experiences, groundbreaking research and innovative scholarship that will frame the future. The event’s theme, “Snapshot,” will provide a lens into the gallery of ideas that exist in the UGA community.

Harper is the executive director of Carrie’s Closet of Georgia, a nonprofit organization with a mission to clothe and impact the lives of Georgia’s most vulnerable and at-risk children through service and advocacy. Her presentation relies heavily on her experiences as a professional and executive director, and it focuses on understanding clothing as a human right that is poorly investigated.

“If we were to consider clothing in the same vein as shelter and food, where would we be?” she asks. “In particular, where would we be in community revitalization and child safety? Where would we be in terms of supporting grassroots organizations that have covered that work? (My presentation) is in that vein of honoring the power of clothing and asking how we do that.”

School of Social Work students and members are encouraged to attend TedxUGA, as Harper hopes to inspire a spirit of innovation amongst her colleagues in the profession understanding of the power social workers hold to those in other industries.

“I want attendees to understand that we are more than just case management and child welfare,” Harper said. “We are more than resource coordination; we are innovative thinkers to the point where a pair of shoes can prompt change in a community.”

“We are dynamic. We are in hospitals. We are in schools. We can go into incarceration systems, work with immigration, and do law. Social work is one of the only professions that can impact so many different contexts and lines of work.”

Overall, Harper hopes to stir individuals to embrace new tenets of thought and recharge themselves.

“We are now in a space where other professionals are teaching us how to do home visits – absolutely not,” Harper said. “We have refined that practice, not other professionals, not Fortune 500 companies. We have to be aggressive in reclaiming the essence of social work practice.”

For Harper, her presentation is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to opportunities for social workers. She hopes to stimulate interest and contributions from the UGA social work community and create change.

“I really want social workers to get out into the UGA community, not just into the academics, but into opportunities like this and participate – we are needed to participate,” Harper said. “We have the right to be in these spaces, too, and to occupy opportunities.”

In-person tickets for TEDxUGA 2024 are sold out, but other options are still available. A virtual livestream option is available to students for $5 and $10 for non-students. Tickets to a watch party at the neighboring Trappeze Pub are available for $30.

There is a limit of two tickets per registration, and interested students and other individuals can register for tickets here. For more information on TedxUGA 2024 follow this link.

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