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Meet John the Spring 2019 Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award Winner

Thank you to John Sluis, the spring 2019 Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award winner, for providing this blog post! 

Public speaking is something that no one would expect me to be good at (even myself). Most people would probably describe me as “practical” and “soft-spoken”, and to come out first in the competition with 1,500 students, 50-65 semi-finalists, and six finalists (all of whom are more than capable of delivering an excellent speech) is well, something that I am still having trouble describing.

Front row (left-right) Finalist Jacob Gay, Finalist Justus Armstrong, Finalist Peter Anthony, John Sluis (winner of Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award), Sheneckwa Kyles (2nd place), Andrew Robison (3rd place). Second row (left-right) Instructor Becca Johnson, Graduate Teaching Assistant Rebecca Oliver, Instructor Tiffany McBride, Instructor Kelley Young, Instructor Melissa Voynich. 

My speech was about how to sketch dragons- both figuratively and literally. I incorporated a few stories in my speech; however, those stories wouldn’t have had any lasting meaning if I hadn’t found a way to make sure that my audience knew that the stories applied to them- that they could be knights, or they could be dragons. Several days after the competition I heard of another student who was present in the audience who was considering whether they perhaps “have a dragon within themselves.” Inspiring others to consider their own actions and motivations were my goals, so I was delighted to hear my speech was still having an impact.

I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Lutzenkirchen speak at my high school. I went to high school where we had a speaker every 3-4 weeks; however, Mr. Lutzenkirchen’s speech was one that resonated more than the rest. I recall that his speech wasn’t just a collection of stories about his son, whose actions both as a football player and as a person, benefitted the lives of everyone he met. Now, this isn’t to say that the legend of Philip Lutzenkirchen doesn’t have an influence on its own; however, Mr. Lutzenkirchen made a point to make sure that those listening to his speech realized that the life and stories of his son applied to them- that they could be like Philip Lutzenkirchen.

Like last semester’s recipient, I too am still elated and incredibly thankful for winning the Philip Lutzenkirchen Public Speaking Competition! I am extremely grateful to my teacher, Dr. Tiffany McBride, who informed me and prepared me for the competition. Thank you to Dr. Jennifer Johnson for hosting and the students of COMM 1000-002 for voting me into the semi-finals. Thank you to all of my friends and family who attended.

I would like to thank Mr. Lutzenkirchen and the Lutzie 43 Foundation, for giving me the opportunity to participate in the Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking competition and for all that they do to tell stories that apply to those who listen.

My best and War Eagle,

John Sluis