You may know what TED talks are, but have you heard of PEN talks?

PEN talks stand for: Perspective Education Narratives. Last night’s panel focused on stereotypes and personal identity. Several minority students shared their unique stories at the panel.

Pen talks are a chance for BYU students to come together in a safe place and discuss diverse topics. Last night, Brigham Young University Student Alumni hosted its second pen talk.

Five diverse BYU students participated in a panel discussion and shared their individual stories about how they’ve been stereotyped, particularly at BYU.

PEN talks happen to be the brainchild of one of the panelists.

Simeon Torento, BYUSA President, shared, “We had a real conversation with a student who needed help, and that student was Kira Nielson. She talked a little bit about the struggles that students can have on campus when they feel like their stories aren’t being told, but ultimately she gave us the idea to have a discussion or a panel where people could tell about their life.”

Kira opened up at the panel about how people have stereotyped her throughout her whole life, just because of her skin color.

She wants a change.

“If people become more open-minded and they’re willing to swallow their pride and get to know people who look different than them, believe different things, have different political beliefs, different backgrounds, this campus is gonna change,” Kira said.

The discussion also included sexual, cultural, and religious identity.

BYUSA leaders are hoping that PEN talks will improve open communication and acceptance right here on BYU’S campus.

Anthony Bates, the forum moderator, mentioned, “I kind of live by the motto of ‘what’s their story?’ When we take the time to ask people what their story is, then we break down stereotypes and break down the barriers, and get to know them for who they are.”

Anthony asked the audience not to leave the discussion there. He encouraged students to lean into the discomfort of a heavy issue and share what they learned with others.

Kira shared, “It’s amazing to have a platform like this where people are here to support us.”

BYUSA has planned out a total of four panels for the 2018-2019 school year. So, if you missed the chance to attend the first two panels, be sure to stay updated with BYUSA for next semester.

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