Fairmont State University has announced the winners of the annual M.M. Neely Persuasive Speaking Contest.
The first-place winner is Wade Baker, a freshman psychology major from Sanford, N.C.; the second-place winner is Daleen Berry, a senior business management major from Morgantown; and the third place winner is Cicely Jo Bosley, a senior oral communication and English major from Sutton, W.Va. All three students spoke "from the heart," a theme of this year's competition. Baker spoke on organ donation, Berry on domestic violence and Bosley on methamphetamine addiction. The prizes are $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third.
The contest was begun 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, almost 70 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, made possible through the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc.
The contest was open to all full-time Fairmont State students who meet the contest's requirements. Participants presented an 8- to 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.