Auburn Speaks — Students Use Their Voice

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Fall Public Speaking Competition Semifinals and Finals Complete

Contributed by Auburn University College of Liberal Arts

Recently, Auburn Speaks presented its fall competition award to Isabel Zecher.

In second place, was Gracie Barranco, third was Juliet Cannizzo and the remaining three finalists were Sam Boyd, Quinn Johnson and Riley Pope.

After hosting a semifinal round all day on Oct. 27, six finalists were chosen from a group of roughly 80 semifinalists. These six finalists presented their self-composed speeches at the Jay and Susie Gouge Performing Arts Center on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.

A panel of judges selected the six finalists after the conclusion of the semifinal round. Once the finalists were chosen, they had five days to prepare to present their speeches in front of an audience bigger than the classroom size they are accustomed to.

On Monday night, Nov. 1, the six spoke in front of a live audience of roughly 600 people.

“This was the first time in two years that we were able to have the finals with a full crowd,” said  Jennifer Johnson, director of Public Speaking at Auburn University. “A good crowd adds energy and excitement, and it was nice to have that type of atmosphere again.”

With speeches ranging as far as how a bill is passed through Congress, to a Septoplasty procedure, to Naked Mole Rats, the judges were tasked with awarding the student who exuded the most confidence, precision, poise and expressiveness.

Zecher’s speech was entitled, “Things You See on an Auburn Jumbotron.”

“I think the toughest job the night of the finals belongs to the judges because once we get to the final round, all the speeches are good,” Johnson said. “And I mean really good.”

Zecher spoke about the wide variety Auburn fans on the Jumbotron in Jordan Hare Stadium during home football games. From shirtless basketball players, to Homecoming candidates, to excited fans, to outstanding alumni, there is no telling what fans may see.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking to have so much pressure and attention put on yourself like that, but it was ultimately a really cool thing to get to participate in and it brought a lot of benefits from the scholarship to pushing myself to go on stage and do something I’ve never done before,” Zecher said.

Zecher was awarded a $4,300 prize to go toward her education. This award was given by Mike Lutzenkirchen on behalf of the Lutzie 43 Foundation in honor of his son and former Auburn football player, Philip Lutzekirchen. Philip’s football number was #43, hence the $4,300 donation.

This Award is one of the many ways the University acts to keep Philip’s legacy alive on campus. Philip was a bright young man who exuded confidence with every step he took. He tragically died in a car accident on June 29, 2014. His legacy is still felt across all parts of Auburn’s campus. This Award honors his great character and achievement as a Communication and Journalism student and student-athlete during his time at Auburn.

After the six finalists presented their speeches, Mike spoke to the audience as well. He gave a powerful testimony to his son’s character, gave his vision for the Lutzie 43 foundation and challenged the audience to be safe, aware drivers so that what happened to his son would not happen to anyone else.

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