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Hyde Park Forum Brings Alumni Back to Campus as Contest Judges

Posted Apr. 29, 2013
enter photo description
Participants in the Hyde Park Forum Persuasive Speaking
Contest get together for a photo at the conclusion of the
contest.

A tradition in Kent State University’s School of Communication Studies, the  Hyde Park Forum Persuasive Speaking Contest, was held on April 10 in the Kent Student Center Ballroom.

Nine students from a variety of academic majors who are enrolled in the school’s Introduction to Human Communication course competed against each other to be named winner.

Matt Fredmonsky, magazine journalism alumnus, ‘06, and editor of KentPatch.com; Ann Guariniello, Rhetoric and Communication, ’91, and IS/IT technical coordinator of ComDoc; Suzanne Theisen, Stow Munroe Falls High School speech coach; Paul Haridakis, Ph.D., director of the School of Communication Studies; and Stan Wearden, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication and Information, served as the competition’s judges.

“We had our largest audience,” says Jennifer McCullough, Ph.D., assistant professor and basic course director in the School of Communication Studies. “We invite alumni to judge the forum so that they have an opportunity to see what current students are doing and give them a chance to stay involved in the school.  With hundreds of people attending the event, it is a good chance for alumni to see how excited and engaged our students are.”

“I felt very honored to judge this competition as a proud alumna of the Kent State School of Communication Studies,” Guariniello says. “I believe I was a good candidate to judge this competition because I have 20 years of work experience, which allows me to use what I have learned to help judge this competition.”

Every student enrolled in Introduction to Human Communication during the 2012-2013 academic year was eligible for the competition. Contestants were determined by a committee that reviewed each of the submitted persuasive speech outlines of the hundreds of enrolled students.

“Each forum contestant was judged on his or her clarity in topic and purpose, the use of credible supporting materials, and use of a clear and logical organizational pattern," McCullough says. “Contestants also were judged on their use of language, vocal qualities, articulation, and use of nonverbal communication.”

“Personally, I think what affects their scores the most are two things,” Guariniello says. “One, were they prepared? Another, were they confident? They will have a hard time convincing a panel of judges anything without these two things.”

Pearson Education, the world’s leading education company, sponsored the 2013 Hyde Park Forum. It donated $1,500 in scholarship and event funds.

First place went to Lindsey Shook, special education major, who earned a $500 scholarship. Her topic was “Spread the Word to End the Word.” Hallie Rasner, visual communication design major, took second place and a $300 scholarship with her speech titled “The Detrimental Effects of Reality Television on Society,” while third place and a $100 scholarship went to Natalie DeGenova, broadcast journalism major, for her presentation “Celebrities Above the Law.”

In addition to the scholarships, students gained valuable experience from participating in the contest.

“Students always benefit from competing in this competition,” McCullough says. “Confidence in one’s presentation skills is a major advantage. The Hyde Park Forum provides students with a unique opportunity to speak to a large audience of peers and an experienced panel of judges. The feedback competitors receive from the judges is a great way for students to learn from experts.”

“I feel any opportunity like this is an excellent chance for a student to shine and showcase his or her talents, such as presentation skills and knowledge about the topic covered,” Guariniello says. “Students should be able to learn to take constructive criticism on the feedback that is offered to them. They should also feel honored that they are part of this great event.”

Other students who competed in this year’s forum were:

  • Cassandra Mejia, exploratory major – “Know the Breed Before You Buy”
  • John Stahl, finance major – “Space Exploration”
  • Lauren Nervo, early childhood education major – “Texting and Driving Could Lead to a Dead End”
  • Rachel Morrell, communication studies major – “Adopt-A-Bull: Your New Best Friend”
  • Taylor Heibertshausen, hospitality management major – “Raising Chickens:  Becoming Healthy, Wealthy and Wise While Still Sleeping In”
  • Amber Bucher, news major– “Honey Bees”