David M. Jones Speech Contest Winners

David M. Jones Speech Contest Winners

Six persuasive speech contest winners for 2023

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Six Parkland College students earned top honors among the 13 persuasive speakers who recently presented at the 20th annual David Jones Persuasive Speaking Contest. 

The competition, which highlights the speaking styles and skills of students who have taken a Communication class at Parkland College, gives the students the opportunity to speak in support of their favorite charity. Local and national charities were represented. 

Earning first-place honors in this year's April 27 competition was Preston Bollman of Philo, whose speech supporting the Challenged Athletes Foundation earned him a $500 scholarship. The Challenged Athletes Foundation will also receive a $500 donation from the Communication Program faculty.

"Not only did I get to talk about an amazing charity, but I gained confidence in myself as well," Bollman said about the experience. "When I first heard about the contest, I never even thought about it because I was too afraid to talk in front of a large crowd. After the contest was over, it wasn't about the money or the first-place finish, it was about overcoming my fear and allowing people to hear about this amazing charity. I wanted to spread the word about the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and that is exactly what I did. I hope to carry this confidence into any future speech and to just remember to have fun."

Becca Steinbach of St. Joseph came in second with her speech for Make-A-Wish Foundation. She will receive $250. Abigael Johnson of Urbana was third, with a speech asking the audience to support C-U at Home. She will receive $100. The 4th- 5th- and 6th-place awards of $50 each went to Hannah Null of Urbana, who supported Earth Justice; Ashlynd Norvask of Shawneetown, who spoke on behalf of the UP Center of Champaign County; and Yafa Issa of Savoy, who spoke on behalf of Doctors Without Borders, USA. 

Each year, Parkland's Communication faculty selects communication professionals within the community and campus as finalist judges. This year, to honor both the 20th anniversary of the contest and the memory of longtime Parkland Broadcast Communication faculty member Steve Brown, contest organizers invited three judges who were former faculty members with close connections to both Jones and Brown: Kent Redmon, professor emeritus, Communications; Rich Blazier, professor emeritus, Natural Sciences; and Tom McDonnell, former WPCD-FM news director and associate professor. Additional judges included Stephanie Davingman, director of Counseling Services at Parkland, and Susan Toalson-McGinty, senior vice president/chief of development, University of Illinois Community Credit Union.

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 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.

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