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50 Applicants Square Off During Public Speaking Contest
Zaniah Maynor
Zaniah Maynor, contest grand prize winner, is joined by her grandparents, along with her friend, who showed her excitement in this photobomb.

The Communication Department sponsored a public speaking contest in April that featured persuasive speeches calling for practical preparation for a zombie invasion, the pros and cons of the fist bump versus the hand shake, a call for eating less processed food, correctly identifying Greek yogurt, and the merits of getting seven hours of sleep a night. An estimated 50 applicants vied for the 2013 title (and cash prizes) and Zaniah Maynor, a women and gender studies major at the School of Arts and Sciences and rising senior, was announced the grand prize winner of the event.

Lori Pesnell, event coordinator, said that the contest was a successful endeavor that challenged its contestants and displayed a number of varying oratory styles.

The contest runners-up (in order) were: Hongshen "Chris" Xia, Lexiang Weng and Zion Kim.

"The public speaking contest was a great success," she explained. "Every presenter brought enthusiasm and phenomenal talent to the stage. In fact, our top four finalists showcased the diversity of effective public speaking styles, proving there is no one way to captivate an audience.

"In the end, we hope all had a good experience, were able to hone some of their public speaking skills and are now ready to take on their next challenge with confidence."

Dr. Nikolaos Linardopoulos, public speaking and debate coordinator, agreed with Pesnell's assessment of the event.

Public Speaking
Front (l to r): "Final Four" Zaniah Maynor, Lexiang Weng, Chris Xia and Zion Kim
Back (l to r): Chris Baia, Michael Goldberg, Nick Linardopoulos, Lori Pesnell, Storey Clayton and Pamela Pruitt

"I feel the contest was a resounding success," he said. "I was impressed by the students' passion and display of public speaking skills. This was a first-hand opportunity for our students to practically apply the skills they have mastered through our public speaking curriculum and they certainly exceeded our expectations."

"We were also honored to have a powerhouse of expert judges: Chris Baia, Frank Bridges, Storey Clayton, Robb Crocker, Michael Goldberg, Jack Harris, Marie Haverfield and Pamela Pruitt," Pesnell added.