TEDx: Sue Khim

By Nathan Peereboom

Taking a leave of absence from her undergraduate education in mathematics at the University of Chicago, Sue Khim (X, ’09) has become the CEO of Brilliant, a talent-finding Web site for students with an affinity for science, technology, engineering, and medicine around the world, and Alltuition, a nonprofit that helps families prepare college financial aid forms.

In her TEDxUChicago talk, Khim argued that, just as athletes are scouted, recruited, and trained to be stars, so must intellectuals. To illustrate this, she compared the GDP per capita between Jamaica and Singapore.

At one point, both had a GDP per capita between $4,000 and $5,000, she explained. But while Singapore has invested in education, Jamaica has failed to do so. Consequently, according to Khim, Singapore’s GDP per capita is currently just a little under 10 times as large as Jamaica’s. Khim warned that Americans may be falling behind, citing that only two cents out of every $100 spent on U.S. education goes to programs for the gifted.

“Countries that focus on developing their people are much more prosperous…. Human innovation has come a long way…. What does it take to find and nurture the mind today that will cure Alzheimer’s tomorrow? Where are they? And who are they?” she asked.