The Gift of Gab

November 15, 2012

It's quite an accomplishment to be named one of the finalists in NCC's Speech Contest Finals.  Every Kenna Brown, Jaika Fuentes, Brianna McFarland, Kaitlin Spevak, Nathan Groblewski, and Kysta Connollycommunication professor nominates the best student speakers from his or her general education class speech communication, who are then moved on to the preliminary rounds. The six finalists were eventually chosen out of over 2,000 students currently taking the course. "It sounds cliché, but they truly all are winners," Tim Molchany, professor of communication and moderator of the event, told the audience who were there to listen to the students show off their speaking skills in the final round of the competition.

If you've danced or sung along to the hit tune "Gangnam Style" by Korean pop star Psy, you are part of the Korean Wave! Brianna McFarland related Psy's popularity with the much larger Korean entertainment movement, which is going global thanks to the internet and social networking. "If you like 'Gangnam Style,' check out other forms of Korean music and expand your cultural horizons," she suggested to the audience as she concluded her speech.

When a close friend discovered her unborn baby had Spina Bifida, Jaika Fuentes did some research about the condition, which occurs when the spinal cord does not close before birth. There is no cure, but surgery done hours after birth or while the baby is still in the womb can in some cases help correct it, although there are risks. As far as prevention, she passed along advice from a doctor she spoke to, "All women of child-bearing age should take a folic acid supplement," Fuentes shared.

A life-changing experience prompted Nathan Groblewski's speech. "When I was 10 years old, I remember looking out a window. I saw a figure in the sky who talked to me," he said. As an adult, it led him to study the "spirit molecule" dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a substance that can be found in some plant sources but also naturally in the human body. It is a powerful hallucinogenic and has been associated with spiritual experiences, Groblewski noted while citing the research of Rick Strassman.

The mystery of Florida tourist attraction Coral Castle was the subject of Kaitlin Spevak's speech. The sculpture garden "still boggles modern scientists," Spevak said. Its eccentric creator, Edward Leedskalnin, carved and moved massive limestone rocks, each weighing several tons, alone and at night. He never explained his methods before his death in 1951. "He also claimed to know the mysteries of the pyramids," Spevak said.

"Be all you can be, in the Army," Kenna Brown's booming voice sang out the familiar jingle used in commercials for the United States Army. But what does it take to make it as a new recruit? Brown outlined the grueling process, which includes exhaustive physical training and a lack of privacy. She spoke from personal experience as a member of the Army. But it's all worth it, she concluded, from the feeling of "pride and joy" gained on graduation from basic training.

How could someone well-liked and admired as an outstanding family man be responsible for the deaths of over 200 people? Krysta Connolly explored the childhood and life of Richard Kuklinski, a mafia hit man. He earned the nickname "Iceman" for freezing his victims, sometimes for months, to mask the actual time of death.

After riveting speeches by all the finalists, a panel of six judges scored the finalists. The judges were:

Dr. Jeffrey Focht, NCC vice president of academic affairs

Kerry Freidl, attorney and past president of the Northampton County Bar Association

David Long, teacher and competitive speech and debate coach at Southern Lehigh  High School

Victoria Montero, coordinator of the adolescent career mentoring program at St. Luke's and an NCC alumna

Dr. Christine Pense, NCC dean of humanities and social sciencesWinner Kenna Brown, pictured with her daughter and classmates

Rudy Tankpinou, motivational speaker and NCC alumnus.

The winners:
First place:  Kenna Brown
Second place:  Nathan Groblewski
Third place:  Brianna McFarland

All the finalists received commemorative paperweights and a certificate. The winners received gift certificates to the college's bookstore. The contest was coordinated by Jennifer Del Quadro, assistant professor of communication.

On Monday, November 19, the talented student speakers at the Monroe Campus took their turn at the podium. The winners of the NCC Monroe Speech Competition are:

First place:  Elizabeth Malantonio:  The Donofrio Classic
Second place:  Shafii Patrick:  Learning Styles
Third place:  Carla Garis:  Hand Washing
Finalists:  Shatieka Boone:  Car Repair; Ryan Leap:  Gibson Les Paul Guitars; and Roz Rubin:  Dog Training



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