NECC Observer

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


A free speech forum for students by students

Northern Essex Community College’s annual Speechapalooza was held April 23, 2019. The event ran from 12:30 to 2:30 in Lecture Hall A and it was fully stocked with free pizza, snacks and water. Since its debut in 2015, this event celebrates student speakers involved in Public Speaking or Public Presentation-intensive classes, giving speeches about a variety of topics to a wide audience. Speechapalooza was created and sponsored by NECC’s Liberal Arts: Communications/Journalism Program and continues to be organized by students enrolled in Principles of Public Relations (COM113). Observer Arts and Entertainment Editor Deidre Grant is one student in the PR class that has had the opportunity to be involved with Speechapalooza. She was one of two MC’s and promoted the event through her Twitter account as well as creating a montage video. “Speechapalooza went really well, I believe this was the best (one) so far. As an MC I was able to encourage the audience to use #speechapalooza on twitter.” says Grant.

This year is the second time Grant has participated in Speechapalooza. Last year she had given a speech about her YouTube channel “Deidre Darling” in which she creates makeup tutorials and reviews makeup products. As of now she currently has 170 subscribers. Grant also won the best tweet contest and got a $25 visa gift card. Principles of Public Relations is taught in the spring semester by Professor Amy Callahan, program chair of communications. Its purpose is to introduce students to the role, processes, and practices of the field of public relations. It explores the development and contemporary impact of the academic and professional field in all its forms. Students are taught how the profession is practiced today in governmental, nonprofit, and corporate sectors, and the impact public relations has in the mass media. 

Speechapalooza is meant to give its PR students the opportunity to exercise the knowledge they acquired throughout the semester. “The communication program has made me find what I love which is writing and broadcast journalism. I wasn’t sure what I wanted but I’m glad I chose to be a part of the communication program.” says Grant. From tips on how to travel on a budget to pitching a movie idea, students are free to present on a topic that they are passionate about. For Liberal Arts student Anthony Adams, he had made a speech on “Your Moment of Zen” where he gave advice on how to achieve zen, providing personal anecdotes. “I had read the book ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’ and I fell in love with it. I decided that I would give a persuasive speech about it in my Public Speaking class with Reese Charest. I believe that even without the religion aspects of it, there are many good things about zen, it brings joy to people.” says Adams.

Along with delivering speeches, Speechapalooza raffles off prizes to audience members. This year’s prizes were gift cards to Lexie’s Restaurant, Dunkin’ Donuts, Whole Foods Market, and a $25 visa gift card for best tweet.  Social Media plays a large in role in promoting Speechapalooza; PR students used their own accounts to broadcast the event and encourage free speech. Throughout the course of the event, the audience is encouraged to make tweets tagging the event #speechapalooza. Then at the end of the event, the MC’s and audience decide on which tweet is the best. Some other students who presented at Speechapalooza were Nurilys Cintron who got things started by showing a video of their ‘Semester at Sea’ from 2015. Cintron gave a speech about their travels and how you too can travel the world on a budget, highlighting some common spending habits among college students and a how-to on prioritizing spending.

Kerry Malloy presented with “How to be Happier.” In it she presented on how she keeps her happiness bar full by appreciating every moment of life, as well as giving personal insight on the things that keep her happy.  Observer editor-in-chief Brennan Cooney with his speech “Vital Masculinity” challenged our notion of what we believe to be masculinity and how the phrase “toxic masculinity” is harmful to men. “… we need to stop lecturing boys as though they were bullies that need to be reformed, and instead teach them to stand up for persons weaker than themselves,” he said. William Robert Tapley presented the audience with “The Climate Change Solution.” He changed the attitude in the room immediately when the audience burst into laughter at his suggestion to cut down the population by killing everyone named “Bill” with the hashtag #killthebills.

Emir Alagoz’s speech was an informative look at Turkish media mogul Acun Ilicali who rose to fame and fortune only after humble beginnings and several hardships. Alagoz, a proud Istanbul, Turkey native also used a moment to draw attention to Amy Callahan and ask for a special applause, crediting her with getting him in front of a crowd speaking “broken English,” said Alogoz.  Jocelyn Avila’s speech “Minorities in Media” drew attention to the lack of representation of Latinx individuals in the media. Avila’s speech was a heartfelt look at how underrepresentation harms POC and how constantly not seeing people like her in the media made her feel like she had to change her appearance to fit in.  Sean Curtis’s speech “Start Your YouTube Channel Today” also encouraged the audience to start their own channels but for a different reason. Curtis loves playing video games and he said gaming reminds him of spending time with his grandmother. Curtis asks the audience if they have interests that are hard to explain to family or friends, several hands rise, and he encouraged them too, to start a channel.

Aallyhia Cruz used her speech “Arichella x Beychella” to discuss the performances of Ariana Grande and Beyoncé at Coachella. Cruz did her research and supplied an in-depth look at both women’s performances and the struggles that they each faced around their performances.  The final speech, a film pitch by Jon Holewinski had the audience in stitches as he weaved a movie together complete with potential actors and even plans for a sequel. Holewinski’s speech was animated and entertaining as he acted out several scenes in the future film along with voices of his characters like Ray Warpzone played by Channing Tatum and Mrs. Applesmile played by Halle Berry. Holewinski assured the audience that “with the star studded cast it’ll pay for itself in the first week,” he said. His last slide is an image of Uncle Sam that says, “I Want You to pay for it please.”

A slide showing someones grandma

A slide showing a picture of someone

Slide showing uncle sam saying "I want you"

Photos by Aaron Lehner