The Hillsdale College speech department recently announced the Edward Everett Oratory Competition finalists. Freshman Ethan Tong, sophomore Molly Buccula, juniors Taryn Murphy and Connor Daniels, and senior Michelle Reid will deliver their speeches at the final round on Mar. 3 at 11 a.m. in Plaster Auditorium during the second CCA.
“From looking at the preliminary competition, it looked intense,” Tong said. “It was tough, there were a lot of people I knew and had a knowledge of their reputation that were competing. I got to watch some of the speeches and they were all well organized and written. I think my style of speaking was different than theirs, which might have helped me. But, it was a bloodbath to get there.”
Unlike the prompts in past years— typically focusing on a specific political question— this year’s topic read, “How to be a good neighbor in a divided world.”
“It’s wider and not discipline bound in anyway,” said Kristen Kiledal, Rhetoric and Public Address Department Chairman. “In some ways, it evens out the resources that each brings. They not only have to become masters of the subject matter but masters of rhetoric as well.”
Tong added that the topic is timely for Hillsdale’s audience, who rarely interacts with people who disagree with them.
“It’s pertinent today because especially with Trump’s presidency, we’ve seen massive divides among parties and even within parties, and in religion differences,” Tong said. “Looking into the outside world, there aren’t usually people who agree with us.»
This isn’t the first competition for some. Last year, Buccola placed third and Murphy placed first. Two years ago, Reid placed second overall.
“It’s not unusual that we have repeaters,” Kiledal said. “We’ve had students who make it all four years.”
Murphy says she’s excited to be back.
“Most of my preparation right now involves learning my speech like the back of my hand,” Murphy said. “Once I know it backwards and forwards, I can just enjoy delivering it without worrying about what I’m saying. I’m looking forward to sharing some incredible stories I came across in my research in hopes that they will touch the audience.”