Four Parkland College students earned top honors out of those who recently presented at the school's 18th annual David M. Jones Persuasive Speech Contest.
The competition, which gives communication students a chance to argue for their favorite charity, featured a virtual awards ceremony this year due to the pandemic. On May 13, judges chose the presenters they felt had the strongest speaking skills, with the top winner's charity receiving a donation of $500. Local, national, and international charities were represented.
First-place honors went to Nathaniel Carsten of Mahomet, whose speech supporting local charity Catsnap, or the Champaign Area Trap Spay/Neuter and Adoption Program, earned him a cash prize of $500. Joseph Simmons of Champaign spoke on behalf of St. Jude's Children's Hospital and won second place, a prize of $250. Tuscola's Anneliese McDaniel came in third, winning $100 for her speech on Stephens Family YMCA. In fourth place was Snehal Saini of Joliet, who earned $50 for his CivicaRX speech.
Contest participants spoke highly of the experience and encouraged fellow students to confront the common fear of public speaking by entering the contest.
"Anyone who is taking COM 103 should take the time to trust themselves and enter this wonderful, charitable contest," Carsten said. "Not placing does not mean not winning. You won over the fear of not entering at all, and that's a tough battle either way." His advice for interested students? "Study, practice, watch plenty of movies, talk to yourself, and enter. Good luck!"
"The contest is definitely worth your time!" Simmons added. "It always helps to put yourself in some competitive situations where you're trying to perform at your best, and the David Jones Speech Contest is a perfect way to put yourself out there!"
Each year, Parkland's Communication faculty selects communication professionals within the community and campus as finalist judges. This year's final-round judges included Dr. Marsh Jones, professor of history at Parkland; Dr. Nancy Sutton, vice president for academic services at Parkland; Tim Ditman, news-talk radio WDWS reporter; WDWS radio host and former general manager Mike Haile; and Les Schulte, president of Illini After 5 Rotary, who contributed the $1,000 prize for the first-place winner and his charity.
The contest is sponsored by the Parkland College Communication program and Parkland's Fine and Applied Arts department and is supported by donations made to the David Jones Persuasive Speech Contest Scholarship Fund. The fund was created in honor of Jones, former chair of the Fine and Applied Arts department from 1988 until his death from cancer in 2002. The annual speech contest honors Dr. Jones' commitment to the communication discipline and student enrichment.
[pictured: Nathaniel Carsten, left; Joseph Simmons, right]