Speaking for a cause

Students succeed in Communication Arts competition
By Camyle Cryderman
As technology becomes more and more prevalent in society, communication seems to be done all through the screen with texts and other messages. Although these impersonal forms of contact may be on the rise, face to face communication is just as important in the professional world.
Honoring this necessity, Schoolcraft’s Department of Communication Arts was proud to present the Communication Arts Kehrl Academic Achievement Award Competition on April 15, 2016. Hosted by Communication Arts Professor Dr. JuJuan Taylor, this event gave students the opportunity to present a unique speech in front of a panel of judges for a scholarship award of up to $2,000 provided by the Kehrl Family fund. The theme of the speech that students were to prepare for this year’s awards was to offer a proposal for solutions that would benefit the people of Flint during this time of the Flint Water Crisis.
The evening began at 5 p.m. with a moving reading of the poem “Can we Auto Correct Humanity?” by Prince Ea, performed by Schoolcraft student, Cooper Rice. This set the tone for the four competing students, Paul Michaels, Carl Pierce, Teresa Rechul and Jason Fedak before their presentations.
“The four students who trusted themselves to go after this intimidating topic are all top achievers, they are all outstanding award winning students,” said Dr. Taylor.
The students then prepared their 5 to 6 minute speeches for a panel of six judges consisting of Schoolcraft professors, Chief Prosecutors and Police Sergeants.
“It’s important for our future leaders to communicate well because communication is used in all professional fields,” said Virginia Joy Jeffress, Assistant Communication Arts Professor and panel judge. “This competition gives students an outlet to refine their skills and be rewarded for their hard work.”
The intimate setting allowed for students to interact with audience members and judges as they each performed their speeches one by one. They offered informational handouts, corresponding PowerPoint presentations and even tangible evidence such as water bottles tainted to appear like Flint’s tap water. The students provided in depth analysis on how to better Flint residents’ current situation by stating solutions such as paid compensation for those affected, redoing the city’s entire water system and calling on Michigan’s top neurological surgeons to help the affected children.
Each student was judged by a number system on aspects such as eye contact, confidence and research. At the end of the competition, every judge’ scores were added up to determine the winners. All of the participating students represented themselves and their research with the highest quality, but after the points were tallied, there could only be three scholarship recipients.
Jason Fedak, who suggested a three step program including switching all of the lead pipes over to plastic to solve the crisis received first place with an award of $2,000.
“I greatly enjoyed the reactions of everyone speaking with one another about the performances, knowing that we all did a great job and had such fantastic judges was a lot of fun,” said Fedak.
Teresa Rechul, who suggested gathering a group of the top doctors in Michigan to personally help those affected received second place with an award of $1,000. Paul Michaels, who suggested changing out not only the city’s pipes, but water mains as well received third place with an award of $558.
Each participating student put in a great deal of effort into researching and compiling their topic as well as conducting personal interviews with people they felt were knowledgeable on the subject. This hard work shone through in each speech presentation and represented the college well not only in their professionalism, but face to face communication as well.