Participants, judges and spectators gathered in the library auditorium on the evening of Thursday, March 10 for the final round of the fourth annual Marie Clegg Jones Speech Competition.
Many students entered the competition, but it was Janelle Neal who walked away with first place and a $500 award.
Neal said she participated in debate and persuasive speaking in high school and won several competitions. Her persuasive speech focused on three steps one should take to properly support a cause.
According to Neal, those three steps are to find a cause you believe in, join a support group surrounding the cause and stand up for what you believe in by getting actively involved.
“After seeing the political unrest in Egypt and the protests taking place, I felt compelled to encourage American citizens to do the same types of things, rather than just complaining about the economy and the government,” Neal said. “I have participated in several political protests and rallies and I like the feeling of being a part of something. I want everyone to experience that.”
Being a non-traditional student, full-time employee, wife and mom to four daughters, made the win even more exciting for Neal.
“This is big for me,” she said. “It makes me feel like I can be successful in whatever I try … and winning the prize money really helps contribute to my education.”
Second place was awarded to Kate Woolfe and third place to Jantsen Teuscher.
Judges for the final round were Margaret Black from the Orem City Council, ABC 4 News anchor Barb Smith, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences David Yells and Kevin Jones, son of Marie Clegg Jones, founder of the competition.
According to her son, Marie Clegg Jones was an advocate for the education of women, passionate about public speaking and excelled as a debater and public speaker throughout her life.
Along with a teaching degree from BYU in Secondary Instruction, Jones enjoyed the distinction of being the first woman to participate on the BYU Men’s Varsity Debate team in the 1940’s.
To honor Jones’ lifetime accomplishments, the family approached Dr. Janet Colvin, a professor in the Communications department, and expressed a desire to provide an endowment for a public speaking competition.
Jones died last fall at the age of 89, but enjoyed watching the competition for the first three years it took place.
“She was very proud of the competition and felt like it was a great way to encourage students to get involved in speaking,” Colvin said. “I think it’s such a great way for all students, but especially public speaking students, to see and give good speeches and practice what they’ve been studying.”