Contest encourages students to speak up

Contest Winners; Minney-Gratz (left) third place, Cruz (center) first place and Harris (right) second place. Vanguard Photo Editor | Brooke Elward

Curtiss Hall welcomed students from all walks of life on Friday Nov. 5, to showcase their prowess in competitive speech.

The 32nd Annual Sims Public Speaking Contest encouraged students to speak on issues they are passionate about in the hopes of walking away with the first-place title.

Nysir Minney-Gratz, a communications senior, claimed third place with his speech on the benefits of
having a mentor. He decided to participate to show what his major has taught him.

“I wanted to utilize the skill and knowledge I had learned throughout the years and incorporate them into this project,” he said. “I believe the competition helped me to build confidence moving forward in the real world after college.”

The second-place finisher, Claire Harris, a communication fifth year, chose to speak about toxic messages found in children’s literature.

“I know many of us grow up hearing the same classic children’s stories over and over but as times change, sometimes it is important to take a step back and look at what these books are really teaching the nation’s youth,” Harris said.

Harris is familiar with participating in competitive speech competitions “I grew up doing quite a bit of public speaking and this is a great way to further that hobby,” she said.

First place winner, communications junior Evangeline Cruz, also brought her past experience into this year’s competition.

The SVSU Competitive Speech Team member placed second in last year’s virtual

“This year was my first time competing in person,” Cruz said. “Therefore, I was also super excited to have that aspect brought back and being able to face that new experience.”

Cruz dedicated her speech to recent bills that have been passed forcing transgender athletes to compete on sports teams that match their biological sex.

The subject hits close to home for Cruz.

“Being part of the Trans community myself, I will always use my voice to persuade others into making a positive impact and fight for the rights of those who have been overlooked too long,” she said.

Cruz said the event made her proud of her major.

“I am so proud to be part of such a spectacular community,” she said.

“The communication department definitely cares about the students and they provide a safe valuable experience for everyone.”

Harris reiterated these statements. “Everyone is always so supportive which is very helpful especially when being so nervous to speak,” she said. “I hope more people sign up and are able to get involved in the future.”

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