NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Students readying for ‘Speechapalooza’

Public Relations class puts on annual event

Public relations students are gearing up for the fifth annual Speechapalooza on April 23rd, in Lecture Hall A. It’s a student-run public speaking event that is truly an exercise in free speech says Professor Amy Callahan. She doesn’t screen the speeches beforehand, but she says her students are free to run ideas by her. The students are encouraged to use this outlet to speak about what they like and what they are passionate about. “I wanted to do Speechapalooza because my students were doing such great work, I wanted more people to hear what they had to say” said Callahan. Organizing the event is mandatory for Callahan’s public relations class, but she attests that it has a “party atmosphere” because it’s run by students. “It can be very powerful, students’ topics can cover things like politics, climate change, even abuse” said Callahan.

Deidre Grant was the event’s audience-chosen winner last year, going home with a $25 Visa gift card for her winning Tweet.. Grant, also known as “Deidre Darling,” on YouTube, gave a speech about her channel at Speechapalooza. Her channel focuses on beauty and fashion, but she wanted to give an inside look at some of the intricacies of having your own channel. She talked about “stuff behind-the-scenes and even how I was unmotivated sometimes” said Grant. She didn’t prepare that much but Grant says talking about something you’re passionate about makes it much easier to get up in front of a crowd. Grant said she felt like she could be comfortable because she was at NECC with her peers, there were even some laughs.

Grant talked about the challenges when faced with group projects; the whole class participated in the coordination of Speechapalooza, and made decisions as a group. Grant said the event gives good experience in public speaking and in event planning. Grant encourages all students to go even if they don’t want to speak, just to watch. “There’s raffles, free pizza, a Tweet contest, it’s a good, coordinated event that makes people want to be involved with NECC” said Grant. Alexis Fontaine plans to give a motivational speech at this year’s Speechapalooza. “I’ve overcome a lot in my life, I want to share how I’ve gotten through that and continue to live positively” said Fontaine. She’s not shy about sharing her personal story, especially, she says, if hearing her speech will help someone else going through something. “Life is not about comparing our tragic [experiences] but about how we overcome them and move on” says Fontaine.

For those who aren’t natural extroverts like Fontaine, she gives advice in the form of a visualization trick. No, she doesn’t “picture the audience naked, that’s weird” says Fontaine. She says to visualize the person you want to be in the future and imagine them succeeding and then make that person a reality today. In tough situations she says, “I ask myself what the girl I want to be would do”.