JCU Presents Fall 2011 Cicero Speech Contest Winners

JCU Public Speaking Professor Tom Govero, 1st place winner Alexandra Summers and Dean of Academic Affairs Mary Merva

JCU Public Speaking Professor Tom Govero, 1st place winner Alexandra Summers and Dean of Academic Affairs Mary Merva

In an Aula Magna filled with fellow students and members of the JCU community, and in front of a jury composed of JCU Faculty and Staff members, eight students battled it out for the Fall 2011 Cicero Speech Contest. Launched by JCU’s Institute of International Communication, this was the fourth time that the contest was held.

The open topic of the contest – “Should the rich give to the poor?” – allowed the students taking part to touch on a broad range of topics, including the current economic crisis, charities, immigration and world hunger.

The judges awarded the first prize to Alexandra Summers, who took inspiration from the figure of Robin Hood and made very astute observations about the role of charities. Alexandra, an English literature major born and raised in England but living in Italy since the age of 16, says that her passion for public speaking comes down to the power of words; as she puts it, “It’s not about grammar or spelling; it’s about words being the predominant mode of communication between people, the power of words to reach out across cultures and capture life. This is perhaps what sparked my interest in public speaking, and what makes this speech contest such a good opportunity for everyone to put these ideals into practice, especially in such an international environment such as JCU.”

Second place was awarded to Alessandro Minissi, and his personal account of a unique encounter with an Afghan asylum-seeker on a Rome bus. Alessandro divides his time in Rome between studying and playing in his band, and is somewhat of a veteran to the contest, having previously won it in August 2010. He is a Communications major and studying at JCU as part of the exchange program with the Università degli Studi di Milano.

All students distinguished themselves for their speeches, Alexandra impressing the audience with her witty and superbly structured speech, Alessandro displaying excellent storytelling skills and comic timing, but also all other participants, whose speeches ranged from stirring and passionate, to touching and humane, fitting given the topic that was being discussed. Dean Mary Merva summed it up best for everyone when she commented on how she “was left speechless by the quality of the speeches”.

Read Alexandra’s winning speech here.