Finding Their Voices

By Matt Hawkins
December 8, 2014

Bradley’s accomplished speech team welcomed 350 high school students for a weekend of competition, coaching and camaraderie during the annual George Armstrong Heart of Illinois Invitational and Janssen Oratorical Contest December 5-6.

Students gave 2,000 speeches in 27 events and three walked away with a total $40,000 in scholarships through the Janssen competition. With the variety of competitions and diverse participants from eight states, students left with fresh ideas to refine their speaking skills.

“It’s an opportunity to see different styles and interpretations of literature to find out what works best for you,” said Jack Ellis, a student from Medina, Minnesota. “We get feedback we can learn from. They care about our growth and want to see us improve.”

Bradley speech team Director of Forensics Ken Young ’05 said the weekend is a unique red carpet opportunity to showcase the university through a distinct high school tournament.

“The tournament provides a niche opportunity for students,” Young said. “It’s a building block to let students see the culture of our team and its family atmosphere, while competing at a right size tournament. Students from across the country compete at a high level and still have time to catch up with each other.”

For many participants, the weekend reunited friends from Bradley’s two-week Summer Forensics Institute. Friendships and coaching at SFI were influential in bringing speech team members like Talan Tyminski ’15, a political science major from Ballwin, Missouri, to Bradley.

She participated in SFI and the Armstrong tournament as a high school student. Now, she values her role as a friend, coach and mentor to students following her path to the Hilltop.

“The Armstrong tournament was one of the most important influences in my college decision,” she said. “Now, it’s enjoyable to work with these students at SFI and see how far they’ve come with the tools we gave them over the summer.”

Ellis won the Janssen Oratorical Contest’s $15,000 top prize. Kyle Powers of Morehead, Kentucky, received the second-place $13,000 scholarship and Megan Magee of Rockton, Illinois, received the third-place $12,000 award.