Above, Introduction to Speech, SPE 101B at Westminster College, Spring 2016.
Each semester in Keith Hardeman’s Introduction to Speech (SPE 101) class, students are tasked with a service learning assignment that challenges them to advocate for a local, national or international community service organization. It’s an exciting opportunity for them to think outside the classroom, persuade other students through research and speeches and, ultimately, donate actual dollars to the charity that garners the most student votes. This year, The ALS Association and debra of America each received a $125 donation from Westminster College students.
A professor of speech communications, Hardeman teaches students how to improve their public speaking skills, find power in words and then structure speeches that bring about change. For the purpose of this project, he pairs the course’s service learning component with a persuasive speech assignment, which involves a competition among different community service organizations. Both SPE 101 classes then raised $125 for the cause.
“Each student in the classes was asked to donate money to an assignment fund,” Hardeman says, “and all enthusiastically complied.”
Classes were then divided into teams of two students, with each team advocating for an organization of their choosing.
In Hardeman’s SPE 101A class, Peter Gable and Tanner Moesch argued on behalf of The ALS Association (ALSA), a nonprofit organization that works to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease through research, care services, public education and policy. At the conclusion of the speeches, ALSA received the most votes. Student donors included Arani Adusumilli, Lydia Colvin, Dylan Dunlap, Jacob Freudenthal, Peter Gable, Jiaming Gao, Blake Harris, Yihan He, Chansa Kateule, Hyunji Kim, Emir Mansfield, Meghan McWilliams, Tanner Moesch, Annie Mulvey, Brett Simon, Landon Smith, Carlos Tellez, Sopa Tsewang, Htet Wai and Jinyu Wang.
The SPE 101B class voted for debra of America, advocated by Jordan Esry and Patrick Bromstedt. The Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America (debra of America) supports, through free programs and services, individuals with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), “a rare genetic connective tissue disorder that [causes] extremely fragile skin that blisters and tears from minor friction or trauma” (debra of America). Student donors included: Kristin Alley, Patrick Bromstedt, Keagan Cavanah, Kunzes Dumbang, Ryan Dyer, Jordan Esry, Nick Hardeman, David Immanuel, Alyssa Johnson, Even Lemaster, Jacob Linders, Javier Martin, John Martin, Bronwin Msubo, Andrew Privett, Blake Riddle, Sydney Sexton, Haley Short, Paige Townsend, Drake Trease, Percy Vanacht, Jordyn Williams and Andrew Young.
Not only did the Westminster students gain firsthand knowledge of the value of advocacy and community service, but they also received thanks for a job well done. The ALSA sent the SPE 101A class a personal thank-you letter, and Debra of America shared the SPE 101B class photo with their more than 10,000 Facebook followers.