Ask anyone connected to Wayland and they’ll tell you that Homecoming is an all campus celebration deeply rooted in our traditions. From the all alumni photo on the steps of Wayland Hall to the informal gatherings, greetings, conversations, and celebrations that cross the campus. The Friday afternoon panel discussion assembled alumni working in a particular field of study to share their journey from their days at Wayland to the present with students, parents, and others in attendance. As the formal question and answer period closed, speakers would typically find themselves surrounded by students posing additional thoughtful questions and making networking connections for the future.
A shift to virtual Homecoming resulted in a shift from the traditional panel discussion to a video and Zoom combination named REDtalks. Alumni present on a topic of significance and interest, participants watch at their leisure, and the group assembles at a designated time for additional discussion and interaction. REDtalks is designed to be forum of inspiration, information, and interaction for the Wayland community worldwide.
REDtalks debuted with presentations by Dr. Uzma Samadani `88 and Dr. Mikki Hebl `87.
Dr. Samadani, an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at University of Minnesota and a practicing neurosurgeon at Minneapolis VA Medical Center and Centracare Hospital, spoke of the importance of a sense of purpose and her role in leveling the playing field for the treatment of traumatic brain injury. Her research, particularly into concussion, traumatic brain injury, and using technology to enable the paralyzed to walk, is having an unbelievable impact. She has provided expert advice to both the FDA and White House. She also chairs ThinkFirst, the largest brain injury prevention organization in the world, and founded Oculogica, a company bringing diagnostic devices to potential.
Dr. Hebl, the Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Professor of Psychology with a joint appointment in the Jones School at Rice University in Houston, helped participants see that psychology reaches far beyond a therapist’s office into many aspects of today’s society. Her research focuses on workplace discrimination and the ways both individuals and organizations can remediate such discrimination and successfully manage diversity. In addition to numerous publications and research grants, she has been recognized with a number of awards including the Academy of Management’s Sage Award for lifetime achievement in research advancing knowledge of gender and diversity in organizations.