Words mean nothing without weight

Students use their words to communicate more than just a speech. Contestants put words to action to start a conversation for change.

The ASO-sponsored speech tournament took place on May 11 in the Great Hall and cash prizes were awarded to winners.

Anna Lundmark placed first in the informative category and Diana Hovhannisyan placed first in the persuasive category, each winning $200.

Communications Professor Michelle Silver organizes the annual event with the support of her colleagues. She thinks the 75 speakers and audience alike benefitted from participating.

“Students were excited that they had the opportunity to participate in the tournament as speakers because they challenged themselves and others who attended as audience members really enjoyed seeing their colleagues speak about issues that they felt passionate about,” Silver said.

Hovhannisyan said she loved the experience and that during her presentation, she had a feeling that she was going to place in the top three.

“I could feel the energy coming from the audience. I could see their eyes paying attention,” said Hovhannisyan.

In her speech, she argued for the acceptance of refugees into the United States, a topic that was inspired by an episode of the PBS show “Frontline.”

“I saw the episode called ‘Exodus’ and I was shocked. I was just so shocked to see how these families are suffering,” she said.

According to Hovhannisyan, the event lasted about five to six hours.

Competitor Akane Saito, who was the runner up in the informative category, said he was hesitant to participate upon first hearing about the tournament because he is an international student.

I wasn’t confident to give a speech in English,” Saito said. “Even after I decided to participate in the speech competition, I was really nervous. I practiced really hard, but also my professor and my friends supported me a lot. So I couldn’t believe that my name was called as second place.”

He said that his Speech 101 professor, Robert Loy, encouraged Saito to participate despite his inhibitions about his proficiency in English.

Saito’s speech was about smart contact lenses, a new technology that can help people with diabetes.

Saito thinks the experience taught him about himself and the things he is capable of.

Pierce student David Araujo placed third in the persuasive category with a speech about why people should get involved in the fight against human trafficking.

“It’s a topic close to my heart,” Araujo said. “I’ve actually met people who have been trafficked and come out of it. I’ve not only heard the stories.”  

This was his first time participating in the tournament and he said he never would have imagined that he would actually place.

“I did it for extra credit,” he said. “But being up there and having people come up to me afterwards and telling me how it touched them and being recognized, it was a very huge achievement.”

He spoke about an organization called ZOE International that helps men and women get rehabilitated.

“I feel like we can make a huge difference. If Starbucks and Coca-Cola can make so much money, we can do the same thing,” he said.

Araujo said he wants to minor in communication because of the impact the event had on him.

Silver said the speech tournament had fantastic speakers and that the turnout was great.

“The Great Hall was packed with students and spectators with standing room only. It was rewarding to see so many students come out to support the event,” she said.

Akane Saito placed second and Ellen Lenderman placed third in the informative category. Michael Sawinski placed second and David Araujo placed third in the persuasive category.

The 7th Annual Speech Tournament will return in Spring 2019.