Public Speaking Showcase

Phuong Nguyen —

More than one hundred students packed into Kirby 6 on the night of March 26 for the Second Annual Public Speaking Showcase, sponsored by the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies. Four members of the freshman and sophomore classes stepped up to the podium to deliver their persuasive speeches to the rest of their peers.

The first place price in the competition went to first-year Allison Kjellander, a Biochemistry major with a minor in Communications from Boise, Idaho. Kjellander raised awareness on the dangers of sport drinks, a common beverage among college students.

Coming in second place was Guis Diundam, a Philosophy and History double major coming to Illinois College from the Netherlands. Diundam brought to the showcase a wake-up call on the threat from the NSA, whom he called America’s Big Brother.

Sophomore Jasmin Falk, a Communication major and Perris, California native, finished third with an assertive stand against plastic surgery among teenagers and children under the age of 18 in her presentation The Age of Beauty.

First-year Ashley Murphy of Tremont, Illinois, a Communication and Spanish double major, advocated for the ban of distracted driving. Her message was clear: don’t text and drive.

The competition brought excitement to the evening showcase. The panel of judges, Political Science Professor Heather Yates, Director of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Dr. Justin Mallett, and Illinois College Trustee Bob Chipman, were impressed with the speakers’ performances. They applauded the students’ bravery to stand up and speak in front of the crowd.

The four students were selected from all of the students in the Speech Fundamental classes in the last two semesters. They survived the elimination round on March 19, which were evaluated by all Communication and Rhetorical Studies faculty.

Chair of the Department, Dr. Adam Jones echoed the judges’ comments, saying “the event demonstrates the caliber, the level, the talent that our students are performing in our CO 101 classes.”

Members of the audience, students Kennedy Runyon, Alexis Lintker, and Kyle Evans agreed. Evans added, “It’s good to be able to see students not only being successful at speaking but speaking of things that they care about.”

Kjellander, the winner of the showcase, resonated with Evans’ observations. She chose the topic of sport drinks, because as an athlete, Kjellander used to consume these products until she realized its harmful effects on health. “Everyone at some point in life probably drink this,” she said. “So they can relate [to it].”

The first-year student also gave credit to her Speech Fundamentals class for helping her build confidence when it comes to public address. “I was surprised how much it helped,” she said. “I’ve been improving so much from public speaking course here at Illinois College.”

According to Dr. Kallia Wright, professor in the Communication and Rhetorical Studies Department and the Showcase Coordinator, the event was organized to allow the students to develop their arguments and gave them the chance to share those opinions with their peers.

Sophomore Alexis Lintker, who competed in the showcase last year, agreed. “As someone that has the experience, it’s really great for the speakers to build their confidence and get themselves out,” Alexis recalled.

For the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies, the purpose of the event was pertinent to their commitment to the college’s academic principle. “Part of the foundation of the liberal arts is the use of rhetoric, the language of persuasion.” Dr. Wright stated. “We are trying to bring back some of that culture and some of that legacy here.”

The showcase was hosted by the officers of Lambda Pi Eta, the Communication Honors Society. Guest speaker Brittany Spaulding added colors to the rhetorical event with her “Praise Poem” and her version of Langston Hughes’ “I Too.” The junior student from Chicago, majoring in Psychology and minoring in English, has published her own poetry book titled Where I am From.

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