Sophomore Taryn Murphy took first place at Hillsdale College’s 19th annual Edward Everett Prize in Oratory speech competition on Tuesday, winning $3,000 for her 10-minute speech on the topic of “Immigration and the Nation State: The Rights and Rules of Borders.”
“I was very honored, and I felt very grateful to have won, especially because the other speakers were so talented. I didn’t expect anything walking into the awards ceremony,” Murphy said.
The competition, hosted by the provost’s office and the department of rhetoric and public address, is named after Edward Everett, an American politician and orator who gave an hours-long keynote speech before Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and who donated his library to the college.
Sophomore Anna Katherine Daley and junior Nathan Grime took second and third place, respectively. Selected as finalists from about a dozen semifinalist speakers earlier in the month, two other students — senior Rachael Menosky and freshman Molly Buccola — also competed on Tuesday. All the speakers were given the same prompt.
Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn, philanthropist and entrepreneur Don Tocco, and Assistant Dean of Men Jeffrey Rogers judged the event. Criteria included logical flow, time management, memorization, persuasiveness, and recognition of audience, said Professor of Rhetoric and Public Address Kirstin Kiledal.
“The judges thought that they were particularly well organized this year and that they sounded more oratorical this year than other years,” Kiledal said. She added that Murphy’s speech was particularly persuasive.
“She was just fluid and had a charming presence that the judges all felt really made her speech engaging. But then it was true for all of the speakers — they really all had their personality in their speeches,” Kiledal said.
Murphy said she probably spent 15 to 20 hours crafting her speech and checked several books out of the library to research the topic.
“I had never articulated my own stance on immigration, and writing the speech helped me to do that,” she said. “Now I feel much better equipped to express the beliefs that I had before.”
Daley said she was delighted to take second place and knew she would regret it if she didn’t take the opportunity.
“At first I was concerned about writing a speech about immigration, because it’s not a topic I feel like I’m an expert on, but I ended up being able to write a speech that I was passionate about, and I truly enjoyed giving it,” she said in a message.
Murphy said she is grateful for the prize and learned a lot from the experience.
“I’m very grateful for the college putting the competition on, and the compensation was just an added bonus to that,” Murphy said. “The experience was worth it and the prize was an additional blessing.”