School of Communication Studies announces Hyde Park Forum winners

The Kent State University School of Communication Studies hosted its annual Hyde Park Forum on April 16, 2014, in the Student Center Ballroom on the Kent Campus.

Hyde Park Forum is an opportunity for students enrolled in the Human Communication Class to engage in persuasive public discourse for an audience of peers, family, and faculty. Students come from a variety of majors.

This year's panel of judges included Heather Wells, Miss Ohio 2013 and graduate of Kent State's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, along with local civic, business and educational leaders.

Judges rated student performances to designate first, second, third place and honorable mention. This year's forum featured seven speakers presented to an audience of 900 fellow students and guests. Audience members cast their vote for the People's Choice Award.

"We bring together highly engaged students and community members for an event that celebrates freedom of speech," said Jennifer McCullough, Ph.D., Basic Course Director and assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies.

Students enrolled during the fall and spring semesters of the current academic year compete to provide a slate of speakers that can best present a persuasive speech within a five-minute time frame, McCullough added.

"Our speakers present interesting persuasive speeches on a whole range of topics," McCullough said.

Speakers were presented scholarships ranging from $50 to $300. Winners of this year's Hyde Park Forum, their topic and instructors included:

  • First place, Melanie Munroe, Read for Your Life! (Maria Butauski)
  • Second place, Emily Thomas, America's Fast Food Frenzy: Time to Choose a New Meal? (Aaron Hanlin)
  • Third Place, Mackenzie Wilson, Rape Culture in America (Pam Harr). Wilson also won the People's Choice Award.

Receiving Honorable Mention were:

  • Chelsea Cushman, The Gift of Sponsoring a Child (Melody Reese)
  • Alexander Daniels, Personal Websites: Professional Branding (Bill Kelvin)
  • Madeline Frederick, Active Living as Transportation (Alex Riecke-Gonzales)
  • Ryan Vargo, Can You Hear Me Now? (Alex Riecke-Gonzales)

Joining Wells as fellow judges representing local civic, educational and business organizations included:

  • Marilyn Sessions, Human Resource and Training Officer for Hometown Bank, Kent
  • Suzanne Theisen, Educator and Debate Competitive Speech Coach for Stow-Munroe Falls City School District
  • David Trebing, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Communication Studies, Kent State
  • Stanley Wearden, Ph.D., Dean, College of Communication and Information
  • Lori Wemhoff, Executive Director, Kent Area Chamber of Commerce

"We were fortunate to have a strong panel of judges from the greater Kent community joining Kent State alumna Heather Wells, a graduate of Kent State's School of Journalism and Mass Communication," McCullough said.