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That Was Well Spoken!

NCC Students Win with Words

By Myra Saturen,

From l-r:  Jason Haller (Judge) Christine Pense (Judge) Eric Rosenthal (Judge) Alexis Labar (2nd Place) Shiona Arthur (Finalist)  Paige Wampole (Finalist)  Daniel Hyun (Finalist)  Lauren Summers  (1st Place)  Kayla Marsdale (3rd Place)  David Long (Judge) Alex Briggs (Judge)

From Legos to learning styles, students at Northampton Community College (NCC) excelled at the College's Speech Contest Finals, Fall 2017.  

Public speaking is a major component of Speech Communication, one of three courses every associate degree candidate must take in order to graduate.  Out of 1,000 students taking the course in fifty sections this semester, twenty were chosen as semi-finalists; their number was then winnowed down to six. All six participants informed their listeners about interesting and useful topics.     

"Everyone knows what Legos are, but how many know how they are made?" asked Daniel Hyun.  He showed how a Lego creation begins with a designer's idea that is fed into a 3-D computer to make a real-life version, say, of an SUV. The Lego bricks themselves are exquisitely   built of non-toxic plastic and are made to be consistent in size with each other to 3/1,000 of an inch.   

Did you know that Nintendo started out as a manufacturer of playing cards?  Shiona Arthur traced the evolution of the Japanese company from 1889, when their product consisted of cards, through arcade games in the 1970s, up until the latest handheld consoles, and many incarnations in between.  Recalling her own childhood fascination with Nintendo, she reported that two-thirds of Americans enjoy the company's games.     

Paige Wampole advocated the adoption of pit bulls as pets.   Contrary to their portrayal in social media as aggressive fighting dogs, she characterized them as "strong, brave and hardworking," animals that located injured soldiers during World War I and once topped the popularity charts for companion canines.  She decried the fact that some people take advantage of the pit bull's trainability by raising them to fight, saying that these animals can be rehabilitated to be good pets.  

Lauren Summers described the way exposure therapy helps people with anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive behavior and panic attacks.  She defined this treatment as a cognitive behavior therapy that works by exposing the affected person to a feared stimulus in a safe setting.  She explained the progressive steps of therapy:  habituation to the feared situation, extinction of the fear, emotional processing, and self-efficacy, the resulting self-confidence that one can overcome their anxiety.   

In Kayla Marsdale's speech, she discussed learning styles: auditory, visual and kinesthetic.  For example, an auditory learner most benefits from listening to recorded lessons and from group study.  A visual learner utilizes color coding and graphics.  A kinesthetic learner gains skill by doing projects and experiments.  Many people use a mixture of these modalities, she said.  She urged her listeners to discover their learning styles to maximize their success.   

Alexis LaBar talked about eating disorders, especially anorexia.  She described the disorders as mental illnesses that cause people to be preoccupied with body shape and to fear food.  Symptoms, she explained, may include cutting food into tiny pieces, eating only half of what is on a plate and a preference for eating alone.  She discussed how the disorders undermine physical, emotional and social well-being.  Physical consequences may be protruding bones, excessive thinness, and an increased risk for cardiac disease and death.  She recommended cognitive behavior therapy as a highly effective treatment.  "Starve your self-hatred, not your body," she said.  

Noting that this semester's speech-givers were the best he has ever seen over many years, master of ceremonies Professor Tim Molchany called all contestants "winners."  The formal results were:  

Finalist: Daniel Hyun
Finalist: Shiona Arthur
Finalist: Paige Wampole
Third Place: Alexis LaBar
Second Place: Kayla Marsdale
First Place: Lauren Summers  

The judges included Alex Briggs, who teaches communication courses at the NCC Monroe Campus; Jason Haller, an NCC alumnus and a program coordinator for the Community College Initiative, a U.S. State Department funded program; David Long, who teaches mathematics and physics at Southern Lehigh High School, where he coaches Competitive Speech and Debate; Dr. Christine Pense, dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at NCC; and Dr. Eric Rosenthal, dean of Student Success at NCC.  

Professor Jennifer Del  Quadro coordinated the contest.  The division of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Communication Studies Department sponsored it.