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May 10, 2019

Communications Major Gabriella Pagan Takes Top Prize in This Year's Delaney Speech Contest

"When I'm in social gatherings, I'd rather melt into the floor than even talk to a new person....however there are ways to cope with such a crippling illness."

Those are words Gabriella Pagan delivered in her first-place speech in this year's annual Delaney Speech Contest on April 29th. The communications major and transfer student spoke openly and poignantly about her struggle with generalized anxiety disorder, and her success in managing it during her talk entitled "Anxiety: Conquering What Cripples."

Pagan said she was stunned by taking the top spot among the dozen competitors.

"That was a good, that was a great try. Try again next year," Pagan said she told herself after wrapping up. "There was so many phenomenal speeches, really phenomenal speeches from people with amazing stories and...I'm like, I can't believe some of these people got past [challenges]... [and] found inspiration even when it felt like there wasn't any."

The annual contest requires each participant to deliver a 3 to 4 minute speech, on any topic, in front of a judging panel of St. Francis faculty that ultimately selects the top three.

"This year's entrants were incredibly impressive, one of the best groups that I've seen," said Brian C. Gregory, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and lead judge. "Each speech was inspirational and revealed amazing insight into the passion and personality of the speaker. All of the speakers displayed extraordinary preparation as well as delivery and storytelling skills on stage."

The Delaney speech contest is named for former SFC Professor of Speech Francis Delaney, whose donation to the school supports public speaking initiatives.

This year's winner received $500; second place took home $400 and third collected $300 (split among two this year). In addition to Pagan, other winners are:

  • 2nd place: Stefano Forte, "How Kanye made me a better Christian"
  • 3rd place (tie)
    • Frank Filocomo, "Battling Stage 4B Hodgkin's Lymphoma"
    • Kevin Smith, "The Most Important Picture Of Your Life Is Your Frame Of Mind."

This year's other participants and their speech titles are:

  • Nyla Booras, "The Story & Legacy of Emmett Till"
  • Anthony Jordan Cowan, "What it is like to be in a fandom"
  • Ainsley Damar, "Child Abuse in the U.S."
  • Mahalia Desrosiers, "The importance of failure"
  • Arkelino Hila, "Personal Finance"
  • Amanda McPherson, "Hair and Identity"
  • Luis Peleaz, "The College Experience"
  • Jasmine Roach, "Generalized Anxiety"

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