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Published:November 17th, 2005 12:13 EST
Students Win Cash Prizes for Giving Speeches

Students Win Cash Prizes for Giving Speeches

By Matthew Kent

A speech on suicide prevention cashed in on first-place honors Wednesday in the final round of a public speaking contest.

Six students competed in the final round with hopes of winning prize money.

The event, sponsored by Doug Bock, professor of speech communication, has been run for the past 12 years and is open to undergraduate speech communication majors who qualified for the final round.

"It provides (speech communication) majors to showcase their skills," Bock said. "I believe that persuasion is important."

Contestants each presented a seven to 10-minute persuasive speech to a panel of five speech communication professors who evaluated each speech using the "speech rating scale."

Christopher Hightower, a sophomore from Danville, titled his speech "Love and Live Life," speaking about suicide prevention.

"We're losing our young people, and that's why I stand before you today," Hightower said.

He described his youth experiences and said, "At the age of 17, I felt like I wasn't anybody ... I don't want you to put that all-black suit or all-black dress and look at the casket and ask yourself 'What could I have done?'"

Hightower won $300 and a plaque for his speech.

"I wasn't expecting to win, and I was lucky enough to make it to the finals; I was fortunate enough to win," Hightower said.

Other winners include: second-place winner Mark Wonderlin, a junior from Bolingbrook, who won $200 and a plaque and third-place winner Jessica Jarrett, a junior from Burbank, who won $100 and a plaque.

Wonderlin spoke about his experience studying abroad in Spain for four months.

"The most important thing about studying abroad is knowing your surroundings," Wonderlin said.

People are concerned about safety issues in other countries, but in actuality people have a "1-in-9 million chance of being in a terrorist attack," he said. "A picture is worth a thousand words, but seeing it in person is worth 10,000 words."

Jarrett spoke about why college students don't vote in a speech titled "Voiceless."

She started out by asking why exactly college students don't vote.

"Is it laziness? Is it a lack of knowledge about the candidates? Will my vote count?" Jarrett said.

She said college students often pick up newspapers everyday to see how much tuition will be in the future. She encouraged everyone to go out and make their voices heard.

"Sometimes I wonder, do we really have a voice?" Jarrett said.

Other contestants included Jamie Baker, a freshman from Brighton, who spoke on Habitat for Humanity; Kenyatta Greer, a senior from DeKalb, who spoke on "Turning Dreams into Reality" and Brent Furrow, a junior from Forsyth, who spoke on the benefits of air travel.