KC Alumnus Presents at TedxErie

Jan 5, 2016 | Alumni-Stories

KCFS’ Nick Cianci joins ranks of celebrated Ted “Talkers”

What do KCFS Director of Enrollment Nick Cianci and Bill Gates have in common?


NickCianciTedScreenshotMore than three decades ago architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Werman invited leading thinkers in three fields: technology, entertainment and design (TED), to join together to discuss the disruptive ideas, concepts and products that promised to change the world.

That first meeting spawned what has become a global phenomenon: the TED Conference. During these semi-annual meetings, 50 speakers deliver 18 minute speeches, known as TED Talks, on topics ranging from religion to virtual reality, medicine to spirituality and just about everything in between. Along with Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Julia Sweeney, David Brooks, Billy Graham and hundreds of other philosophers, philanthropists, entertainers, and innovators have given TED Talks.

TED became a multi-media juggernaut when the first series of talks, which had previously been available only to those attending TED Conferences, was posted online. Today the twice-yearly conferences are simulcast via TEDActive; NPR’s weekly TED Radio Hour broadcast attracts millions of listeners; and the archive of TED Talks on the organization’s website, www.ted.com, draws 17 unique page views per second. To date, more than 1 billion people have viewed a Talk.

In 2009 TED launched the TEDx program that helps organizers stage TED-like events across the United States and the world. These locally-focused events spark deep conversations and thought about issues that matter most to the communities in which they’re held. On November 14, 2015 TEDx came to Erie. The theme of the conference: “The Rising Tide.”

That’s when Nick Cianci, a 2010 graduate of Kennedy Catholic High, took his place alongside Bill Gates and other Ted “talkers.”

Screenshot-SurferOne of 12 people chosen from among a pool of nearly 90 people who applied to speak at the conference, Nick’s talk, “Great Lakes Surfing: A Millenial’s Vision for Regional Development,” uses the challenges associated with surfing Lake Erie in winter as an allegory for rebuilding “Rustbelt” communities like Cleveland and Buffalo. Nick notes that Great Lake surfers, including himself, are willing to plunge into frigid mid-winter waters because that’s when the surfing—the opportunity to catch a great wave—are best.

After describing the challenges associated with jumping into and climbing out of water that’s barely above freezing, he asks if surfing Lake Erie in winter and rebuilding cities like Cleveland and Buffalo require similar levels of courage, commitment and vision:

“If you can look at the waves of Lake Erie in December and feel a stoke, if you can get barreled outside Buffalo or catch a right in Cleveland, then maybe you can see something, or share something, or build something in the same locations no matter how impossible the conditions may seem.

So, can we do it? Can we look at the remains of a Rustbelt America, crumbling buildings, crumbling machinery, crumbling demographics, crumbling optimism and see something worth salvaging?”

We’re not going to give you Nick’s answer to the profound questions he raised during his talk because we want you to watch his entire inspiring and thought-provoking presentation…

Father Michael Allison said Nick exemplifies the energy, enthusiasm, intellect and academic achievement and commitment to service that make the Kennedy Catholic Family of Schools truly exceptional. “Nick was an outstanding student and accomplished young man who could have gone anywhere after college,” Father Allison, said. “He chose to return to Kennedy because he, like every member of our faculty and staff, believes in our mission and in the critical role Catholic education plays in shaping the leaders of tomorrow. We’re grateful that he’s here, helping us do exactly that every day.”

Nick, a native of Greenville, PA earned dual Bachelors’ of Arts degrees from Mercyhurst University, graduating Magna cum Laude. At Mercyhurst, he co-authored research that earned highest recognition by the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Justice Educators. He was also an “Outstanding Senior Award” finalist for the School of Social Sciences.

Nick gave to the Erie area through ministry and service during his time at MU. He was co-founder of nationally recognized Mercyhurst Youth Retreats and Catholic Leadership Education, and also worked with educational programs such as Bayfront Maritime Center, Carpe Diem Academy, and Harborcreek Youth Services.