For many people, the idea of public speaking comes from their nightmares. Although public speaking is a very common fear, some CM150 students went on to participate in the annual Nall Speak Off.
On Wednesday, November 8, students registered to participate in the competition and win the top prize, a $500 scholarship.
The Nall Speak Off has been held every semester for over 20 years thanks to the Robert Nall family who graciously donate $1,400 to each competition in scholarships for the winners. In addition to the scholarships awarded to the top six students, an additional $100 scholarship for the top high school student was added to their winnings.
Anyone currently taking CM150 is eligible to compete for scholarships, with some exceptions. Students who already participate in debate or mock trial at Washburn are discouraged from participating, but students who participate are welcome to join the debate and mock trial teams.
Speeches covered topics ranging from the mental health effects of pet ownership to bricks. Topeka West High School senior Ziona Jackson gave a four-to-six minute informative speech about bricks and placed second overall.
The evening began with an introduction and heartfelt thanks to the Nall family, the Washburn Department of Communication Studies, and the judges. The celebrity jury consisted of two Washburn staff members and a graduate student. The panel of judges included Heather Center, interim director of student housing, Kathy Pflaum, director of purchasing, and Jenna Gorton, a Washburn alumna.
“I was a fan of debate when I was in high school, so I thought it would be fun. But I have to tell you that it was really difficult to categorize people and write very constructive and very positive things,” Pflaum said.
The competition began with a speech covering the history of Fourth of July traditions given by Maddie Herken, a first-year radiologic technology student. The following speech was given by Daniel Alamilla, a first-year marketing student, on the effects of pets on their owner’s mental health. These speeches ranked sixth and fifth, respectively.
After that, Ziona Jackson, the only high school student to advance to the final six competitors, performed. His speech was about bricks and was anything but boring as he made the audience laugh. She finished second overall and received a $400 scholarship plus an additional $100 for being the top high school student, bringing her total scholarship amount to $500.
Mason Fair, a freshman finance major, was the next student enrolled. Fair is a member of the Washburn boys tennis team and stressed the importance of a good tennis bag. Fair was the first student to use props during his speech as he brought and emptied his entire tennis bag to show the type of items it can hold as well as the benefits these items give him during a match . He walked away with first place and a $500 scholarship.
The decision for the third and fourth place winners came down to the smallest details. Adisyn Stofer, a first-year physical therapy student, placed third with her talk on scar tissue.
Fourth place was taken by Mohammad Asfaque, a second year pure mathematics student. He used video examples he created to support his arguments about TikTok’s impact on users’ daily lives.
The range of topics was extremely diverse.
“It was really eye-opening for me to learn about all of these wonderful things that students are presenting on, and they are so passionate about it,” Center said.
Kevin O’Leary, professor of communication studies and debate coach, shared his hopes for the future of the event.
“I would just like to continue the rebound that we are already seeing because of the pandemic. This event had to move online for a while during the pandemic,” O’Leary said. “So obviously attendance really suffered after the pandemic. I think we get it, we’re starting to see the energy and enthusiasm come back. So I would just like to see maybe a steady increase.
Congratulations to the top six winners of this semester’s Nall Speak Off and to all other participants. Ichabods can expect the event to happen again next semester, in Spring 2024.
Edited by Sydney Peterson and Jayme Thompson