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Mass Communication major shines as Fall Speech Night winner

Speech Night Winners
Speech Night finalists, judges, and Public Speaking faculty

Mass Communication major Karra Chaltraw was voted IU South Bend Fall Speech Night winner at the finals round of Speech Night on December 5th for her speech, IU South Bend: Smoking Ban. Outlining the dangers of second hand smoke, how it affects asthmatics and lack of enforcement and awareness of current IU South Bend’s on-campus smoking ban, Chaltraw convinced judges her persuasive speaking skills were the best. 

For Chaltraw, a college campus with a smoking ban policy is a pertinent consideration due to her asthma. Finding someone smoking right next to her car inspired her persuasive speech topic. Guidance from Professor Tami Martinez helped Chaltraw balance two perspectives to structure her speech. “I didn’t want to ostracize those people that smoked and followed the college’s smoking ban,” says Chaltraw, “so Professor Martinez helped me take both people’s perspectives into consideration.”

After selecting a topic, Chaltraw did what all prepared public speakers do - a lot of practice! Using a method from her days in Speech and Debate in high school, Chaltraw’s main strategy for preparation is practicing in front of a wall and imagining an audience.  She has used this method since her days in Speech and Debate in High School, “It always helps me out - maybe because I’ve been doing it for four years. After that long, you’re no longer embarrassed to get caught yelling at a wall!”

For Chaltraw, winning the competition brought her out of a public speaking slump and boosted her confidence. She has advanced her development as a public speaker by joining the IUSB Debate Team. In the future, Chaltraw hopes to work in politics as a speechwriter.  Speech Night provided a practice platform of experience by examining how speeches work, making them flow, and critical audience considerations. Besides being victorious at Speech Night, Kaltraw “loved meeting people throughout the rehearsals and during the actual events. It was really fun!”

Five other semifinalists were voted to the finals round of Speech Night: psychology major Laura Brown, double major in Spanish and French Education Ashley Gould, nursing major Paige Tribbet, anthropology major Nicole Miller, and undecided major Andrew Stuff.

Adding to the fun and spirit of Speech Night was the roasting of Professor Kevin Gillen, as he passes the torch of Speech Night to Professor Martinez. Presented by Professor Rachel Sylvester, the audience laughed as his fellow colleagues warm heartedly reflected on Gillen’s progression from student to faculty member.

For the first time, a People’s Choice Award was presented. Ashley Gould, who was a semifinalist as well, was the first recipient of this award. The winner was based on the speech that received the most “likes” on the IU South Bend Speech Night Facebook page. All thirty semifinalist videos from the preliminary rounds in November were posted so votes could be placed for favorite speech.

The social media campaign promoting the event was new to Speech Night this year, inspired by Professor McInerney’s Intro to Public Relations course. Professor McInerney also teaches Public Speaking. The Speech Night program will celebrate its 30th anniversary this spring. Preliminaries will start in April of this year so stay tuned and see who is the next Speech Night winner!