The Communication Program and the Martin Luther King Scholarship Association (MLKSA) recently hosted an event called “Speak With Conviction” at the Oratorical Festival.
Angela Kotsonis, the founder of this event, said she joined with MLKSA to bring awareness to a number of important topics that the public feels should be brought to light.
“I think people want to have urgent conversation,” Kotsonis said. “I think we need to learn how.”
The presenters consisted of student members of MLKSA and students from Kotsonis’ Oral Communication class. A total of seven students presented their personal experience to the audience, along with research data to support their stories. The discussions ranged from whether college athletes should receive wages to substance abuse within households.
Emotions ran high as each student came up and gave personal insight on relatable topics.
Daniel Baluch, a freshman marketing major, presented works from Martin Luther King before ending the event with a poem he wrote. Baluch said that the essential purpose for the event was to celebrate Dr. King’s work and his morals.
Baluch added that he was “going with the flow” as the discussion progressed into its diverse topics. He added that he was proud of how his peers spoke and presented.
“I look at these faces, and I see a lot of potential,” Baluch said. “I think we continue to speak our truth from here.”
Ellora Haukenfrers, a freshman biochemistry major, also presented at the event. Like most of her peers, Haukenfrers said she had some nerves when it came to presenting, but was able to fight it off in order to get her story across.
“I decided to share my experience because I felt that I had reached a point in my growth in moving on from what I went through,” she said.
Baluch, Haukenfrers and their fellow students all said they had some personal hurdles to jump over that had brought them to this point in their journey.
Baluch said that he hadn’t expected to become emotional during the event, but is thankful that he did.
“Hearing that I wasn’t alone on certain issues and seeing other people go through some of the similar things that I’ve been through, it really let it out for me,” Baluch said.
Kotsonis said she sees the simplicity within such events that start up important conversations. She said that all people need is a space to share their experiences, a reason to be in it and willingness to learn and share.
Ronald Castaneda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.