Unity in Diversity speech competition to celebrate cultural differences

Shaun Zinck and Amy Kreeger

The Unity in Diversity Team is hosting “Celebrating our Differences Together,” an event on campus to increase awareness of cultural and racial differences tonight at 7 p.m. at the Holmes Student Center.

“The students who compete come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences,” said Jennifer Likeum, a member of the Unity in Diversity Team committee and communications instructor. The average number of students who participate in this event is 70, Likeum said.

“I believe the main reason students compete is to promote awareness for the different cultures that exist,” she said. “This in turn opens the minds of other students and instructors, which I feel fosters a sense of togetherness among all involved.”

The top six speakers were selected from the preliminary round to continue to the final round.

“The contestants were divided up into different rooms with six contestants and two judges per room,” said COMS 100 teaching assistant Kyle Christensen, who helped with the preliminary round of speakers.

He said the contestants were split up so no instructor could judge their own student.

“The students could speak on whatever they wanted with the stipulation that it related to celebrating our differences together,” Christensen said.

Christensen said there were several criterias that judges looked for when listening to students speak.

“We would critique them on non-verbals such as eye contact and body language,” he said. “We would also look at their verbal delivery and articulation making sure they spoke at a conversational rate.”

The six students who will compete are Mel Walter, Jeremy White, Taylor Thanos, Cari Krikorian, Juan Rodriguez and Shondell Coleman.

The winner receives $300 cash and an opportunity to present their speech at a banquet in the spring. Second place wins $200 and third place wins $100.

This year the final round will be judged by COMS 100/100P Director Ferald Bryan; CHANCE Director Denise Hayman and Forensics Director Kerith Woodyard.

Editor’s Note: Taylor Thanos is a Northern Star employee.

Past Winners

Collette Walton (2005-06)

Aandrienne Halloway (2006-07)

Jelmar Atkins (2007-08)

Yahpri Maxwell (2008-09)

Mary Ann Erickson (2009-10)