Public Speaking Contest
The Semi-Annual Civic Engagement Public Speaking Contest
Chahat Sharma, “Going Beyond Safe-Ed Sex Education,” First Prize, Spring 2016
Each semester, all CAS 100A students are eligible to compete in the Civic Engagement Public Speaking Contest, with a chance to address an audience of their classmates, instructors, fellow students, and State College community members. And to win prizes.
What is the Public Speaking Contest?
Since its establishment in 1935, the Communication Arts and Sciences Department has been inextricably linked with public speaking, and since 1959, the foundational speech course has been a graduation requirement for all Penn State students. Each semester, CAS celebrates this history and the outstanding students our CAS 100A instructors teach each semester by hosting the Civic Engagement Public Speaking Contest. Students in each section of CAS 100A nominate a classmate to represent their section in the Quarterfinals of the Contest. Students present an extended version of their second speaking assignment, the Problem-Policy speech, in which they explain a significant and urgent civic or communal problem and detail a possible solution. The top speaker from each round moves onto the Semifinals, and the top six speakers become the Contest Finalists. Finalists compete for cash and gift card prizes in front of an audience of students, instructors, and community members, and a catered reception is open to all after the event. A panel of judges evaluates the competition, and a film crew from Pearson Learning Solutions records the performances. The event is made possible through the generous support of the CAS Department and Pearson Learning Solutions.
All students of CAS 100A are eligible to participate in the Contest the semester they are enrolled in 100A. Each class nominates the speaker who will represent their class in the competition. There is no summer competition.
What is the event like?
The Quarterfinals of the Contest can feature up to 80 contestants, since each section of CAS 100A can send their class-nominated speaker to the Contest. The group is divided into rounds of four to six speakers, each of whom is judged by two CAS 100A instructors. The top speaker from each round moves to the Semifinals, usually two to three rounds of six speakers judged by two CAS 100A instructors. Six speakers advance to the Finals.
The Final Round is held in the Freeman Auditorium in the HUB Robeson Center, and the Contest sees an average attendance of over 200 audience members. The event is live-Tweeted, and our emcee, CAS100 Director Dr. Michele Kennerly, moderates the event and the live-Tweeting. The panel of judges represents the CAS Department, wider academic areas of Penn State, the State College Community, and Pearson Learning Solutions. Campus Catering coordinates the catered reception of various hors d’oeuvres that follows the event.
What are the prizes?
Through the generosity of our sponsors, we award all Finalists with a prize for their engagement. The three Honorable Mention performances receive a $75 gift card to Barnes and Noble Booksellers. The top three speakers receive cash prizes of $300, $200, and $100 for first, second, and third places, respectively.
Past Contest Winners
Though there have been oratory contests at Penn State since the nineteenth century, the Contest in its current form has been a semi-annual event for the CAS Department since the early 2000s. Below is a list of more recent Contest winners.
|Spring 2016||Chahat Sharma, “Going Beyond Safe-Ed Sex Education”|
|Fall 2015||Mia Sievers, “Preventing the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance”|
|Spring 2015||Evan Jones, “Linked In or Tuned Out?”|
|Fall 2014||Terrence Ford, “Overcrowded Prisons and Reform of Our Justice System”|
|Spring 2014||Nadia Lehtihet, “Medicaid Expansion: Pennsylvania’s Fight for Life”|
|Fall 2013||Amanda Hofstaeder, “Mandatory GMO Labeling: A Win-Win for Companies and Consumers”|
|Spring 2013||Kris Stauffer, “Death to Pennies – A How-To”|
|Fall 2012||Shayna Levenson, “Engineering a Solution to Hospital Acquired Infections”|
|Spring 2012||Nicholas Gildea, “Anabolic Steroid Use: The Untold Drug Problem”|
|Fall 2011||Benjamin Ringel, “Social Networking Privacy Problems”|
|Spring 2011||Jared Smith, “Food Labeling Reform”|
|Fall 2010||Kevin Shaffer, “Football Head Injuries: a Preventable Crisis”|
|Spring 2010||Nicole Murray, “Breast Cancer: Triumph over Tragedy”|
|Fall 2009||Brian Sullivan, “Gay Straight Alliances in American Public Schools”|
|Spring 2009||Evan Rothey, “So They Can Be Kids Again”|
|Fall 2008||Paul Langdon, “E-Waste: A Grave Reality”|
|Spring 2008||Patrick Buckley, “DNA Database Expansion”|
|Fall 2007||Ben George, "Civic Illiteracy"|
|Spring 2007||Lauren McDevitt, “C.A.R.E.: Prevent Child Sexual Abuse”|
|Fall 2006||Jason Traverse, “The Cost of Bad Drivers”|
|Spring 2006||Rebecca Wilmer, “Too Cool to Be Kind: Raising Awareness of the Media's Effects on Self-Image”|
|Fall 2005||Kevin Shaw, “A Policy Analysis on the Pending Renewal of the USA Patriot Act”|
|Spring 2005||Jigisha Desai, “Gay Marriage: A Right, Not A Sin”|