Students Turn Personal Experiences into Persuasive Speeches at Annual Hyde Park Forum | School of Communication Studies | Kent State University

Students Turn Personal Experiences into Persuasive Speeches at Annual Hyde Park Forum

School of Communication Studies Awards Scholarships to All Participants

The Kent State University School of Communication Studies (COMM) hosted the annual Hyde Park Forum on Tuesday, April 24, in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. 

The top three student speakers from both the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 Introduction to Human Communication courses delivered their persuasive speeches to an audience of about 375 attendees.

“The Hyde Park Forum is a long-standing tradition in the School of Communication Studies,” said Aaron Bacue, the interim basic course director and undergraduate coordinator. “Its namesake is Hyde Park London and its famous Speaker’s Corner, where citizens gather to speak about social issues that are important to them.”

He said the COMM forum is similar in that student contestants present persuasive speeches about issues they deem important and worthy of their peers’ attention and action. Those topics included:

Topics of these persuasive speeches often times grow from personal experiences. For example, Kwiatkowski used actual examples of handmade or thrift store bought fashion as support in her speech on sustainability in fashion. Sandman opened his speech with the story of his own motorcycle accident and closed with a powerful story of his friend's struggle to learn to walk and talk following an accident. His research showed that 71 percent of young adults admit to not using turn signals when driving.

Each student walks away with some scholarship money, ranging from $500 for first place to $50 for fifth and sixth places. 

Judges rank students' performances to designate scholarship prizes. This year’s judging panel included

  • Robin Clark, APR, director of marketing at Akron Children’s Hospital;
  • Tamara Frazier, sophomore advertising major and 2017 Hyde Park Forum Champion;
  • Barbara Hatala, communications manager for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company;
  • Lamar R. Hylton, Dean of Students at Kent State University; and
  • Ned Parks, owner of Aegis 360 Consulting.

The audience also plays a role in voting. Using the app VoxVote, attendees choose their favorite speech. The honoree with the most votes walks away with bragging rights and the People’s Choice Award.

First place winner Alexa Kwiatkowski edged out the competition to earn this year’s People’s Choice Award.

Kent State University’s School of Communication Studies offers a Bachelor of Arts degree with concentrations in applied, global, health, interpersonal, organizational and public communication. Graduate programs include master’s degrees in global, health, mediated/mass and interpersonal communication.