Brooklyn Heights

St. Francis students earn $1,350 in speech contest

May 17, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jameera Blackwell. Photos courtesy of St. Francis College

Personal and poignant stories ruled the day at the annual Delaney Speech Contest on April 20 as students offered three- to four-minute persuasive talks to earn a share of the $1,350 in prize money.

Jamera Blackwell won first prize ($550) for her speech on the immense costs associated with the crime of rape, including medical costs, therapy and emotional impact. She also talked about ways to prevent rape. 

Frank Jankowski took second prize ($450) by using personal anecdotes to illuminate the harm of sexual discrimination.

Kaelin Garces, third-prize winner ($350), talked about the importance of encryption technology, arguing that personal privacy outweighs government eavesdropping. 

Each contestant offered an original three- to four-minute extemporaneous speech on the topic of their choice. Students were asked to use notecards and not read a prepared speech. The exercise was an attempt to push back at a world where reliance on social media finds more and more people communicating through snaps, texts and emojis, and not actually speaking to each other. By contrast, St. Francis College is proud to keep alive the lost art of persuasive public speaking.

The event was organized by St. Francis Communication Arts Professor Timothy Dugan and judged by a panel of St. Francis professors.

The Delaney Speech Contest is named for Francis Delaney, a St. Francis College speech professor during the 1950s and ’60s who made it his mission to “cure” St. Francis students of their Brooklyn accents in order to help them get ahead in their careers. Delaney donated money to the school to help keep alive the fading art of persuasive speech.

“While the contest is named after Delaney, we no longer try to cure students of their accents,” added Dr. Dugan. “Instead, our focus is on turning our students into solid communicators, both orally and through the written word.” 

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