Unveiling truth: UT’s 15th annual Speech Contest empowers authenticity

By Kiley Petracek

(From Left) Kyle Gianni, Liv Cloran, and Luke Carver accept UT’s speech contest places on Friday, November 11th. Photo by Jack Garapola.

On Friday, November 11th, junior finance major Luke Carver accepted first place at The University of Tampa (UT)’s 15th annual Speech Contest on the ninth floor of Vaughn, focusing on his story, ‘The Girl With Golden Eyes.’ Carver’s speech shined light on the authenticity of growing up with a parent struggling with addiction. 

UT’s speech contest has been present in the community for 15 years, originally created by Dr. Chris Gurrie. This fall, there were six active presenters with an estimated 50 attendees ranging from relatives, communication students, and storytelling fanatics. 

“It’s exciting to see all the friends and families of the speakers,” said Gurrie. “I love seeing the energy and enthusiasm of faculty and how the quality of speeches have evolved over the years.”

The Speech Center assists students in developing their voice, in both professional and personal ways. During the contest, Dr. Stephen Kromka said, “If you don’t know how to communicate your message, it doesn’t matter what you say.” 

‘The Girl With Golden Eyes’ presented by Carver was one of six speeches presented on Friday evening, ranking first. His tasteful humor and addition of metaphors with quick comparisons charmed the judges and the audience alike, while sharing, “No one comes out of addiction unscathed.” 

In second place, Liv Cloran’s speech ‘Second Guessing Snooping’ featured a more casual tone with real-life examples and primary research of gen-z’s desire to know. Her speech displayed the innuendoes, “If you want to look at your partner’s phone so badly, isn’t the relationship already dead?”

Kyle Gianni won third place as a freshman sharing ‘The Remedy of Gay Loneliness’ which encompassed his negative previous experiences with gay men, and highlighting how “Society, due to its inability to understand two men being romantic, has left gay men to only love in the shadows.”

Luke’s emotional and raw storytelling was brought to life by his ability to piece together creative words with no filter, igniting the audience to feel as if the story is enveloping right before their eyes, according to Carver. The focus on the concept of truth was held true by his speech, fixating on how his father’s heroin addiction shaped his family and self.

“I just really wanted to bring light to his story, my story, and our story and put it in a hero aspect,” said Carver. 

As far as writing the speech, Carver’s first draft was completed in one night in light of recently being able to read his father’s journal throughout his time in rehabilitation. “It was emotional for me, but it was a good way for me to take that emotion and trauma and release it.”

Truth was a dominant theme throughout the speeches shared during this contest, with other speaker’s Spencer Heilveil’s testimony being named ‘I Know My Truth, Do You?’ and Daisy Oberfeld’s ‘I Don’t Know, But I’ll Figure It Out.’

“I just want people to realize that their truth will change and there’s no linear path to finding it. It’s not a one-way street,” Carver said. “You just have to trust in the process and enjoy the journey as it comes to you.” 

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