Fairmont State University has announced the winners of the annual M.M. Neely Persuasive Speaking Contest. The first place winner was Kady Fenske, who is a Communication major from Moundsville. Her topic was “Closing Puppy Mills.”Second place went to Jerry Reames, a Pre-Med major from Clarksburg. His topic was “Porn Addiction.”The third place winner was Marianne Jenkins, a Graphics Technology major from Grafton. Her topic was “Home Schooling.”
The prizes were $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place.
The contest began in the 1930s at Fairmont State and Salem College by the former U.S. senator and governor of West Virginia, Mathew Mansfield Neely. As a politician, he fought for cancer research, child labor regulation and other similar reforms. A most celebrated and controversial politician, Neely, who was also quite adept at public speaking, saw the contest as a way to encourage students to speak up for their beliefs as he had in support of his deeply-held convictions.
Now, 71 years later, Neely’s heirs, specifically his daughter, Corrine Neely Pettit, have endowed the contest in perpetuity. In addition to this contest, the Neely family has shown its commitment to speech education at Fairmont State by providing monies for numerous scholarships to students who major or minor in Speech Communication.
The contest was open to all full-time Fairmont State students who meet the contest’s requirements. Participants presented an 8-10 minute persuasive problem analysis based upon extensive research. The students were judged on composition (quality of script) and the delivery or effectiveness of the presentation.