Fairmont State announces M.M. Neely Persuasive Speaking Contest winners

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center recently hosted the M.M. Neely Persuasive Speaking Contest where Fairmont State University students presented persuasive speeches based on extensive research, and were judged on the quality of their arguments and delivery of presentation.

The winners selected include Ashton Malnick, Fairview, WV (first place); Alexandra Haberland, Fairmont, WV (second place); and Jaye Carvelli, Shinnston, West Virginia (third place). The winners received cash awards provided by the Neely family through the Fairmont State Foundation. Additional finalists were Kayleigh Casto, Anthony Fordham, Daisy Gibbons and Makayla Schindler.

“We look forward to continuing the tradition of the M.M. Neely Persuasive Speaking Contest each year,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Events and programs, such as the Neely Persuasive Speaking Contest, are one of the hallmarks of a Fairmont State University education, allowing our students to prepare and apply real-world skills. These students are perfect examples of the type of homegrown talent we prize and nurture at Fairmont State, and we congratulate each of them on this recognition.”

The contest was established by former U.S. Senator and Governor of West Virginia, Matthew 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.

Neely’s heirs, specifically his daughter, Corrine Neely Pettit, endowed the contest in perpetuity. In addition to this contest, the Neely family has shown its commitment to speech communication education at Fairmont State University by providing monies for numerous scholarships to students who major or minor in communication arts.

For more information, contact Aimee.Richards@fairmontstate.edu.