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November 15, 2019

Mental health crisis in black communities focus of SVSU student's award-winning speech

Vaughn, SimoneA Saginaw Valley State University student’s passion for raising awareness about the mental health crisis in black communities recently helped her take home the top prize for a longstanding annual public speaking contest at the institution.

Simone Vaughn, a communication major from Saginaw, was the first-place prize recipient during the 30th annual Sims Public Speaking Competition Friday, Nov. 8, at SVSU. A panel of judges selected Vaughn for her presentation, titled “Black Hole: The Mental Health Crisis in the Black Community.”

Vaughn will receive a $400 cash prize.

Vaughn is accustomed to presenting to crowds. In July, she was voted the titleholder of Miss Saginaw County, which is part of the Miss America Organization that offers scholarships to women across the nation.

Five other students earned cash prizes for their speeches during the Sims Public Speaking Competition. They are as follows:

  • Kailey Johnston, a communication major from Shelby Township, earned second place and $250 for her presentation, titled “Stopping Alt-Right Groups From Recruiting Teen Boys Online.”
  • Jessica Davis, an elementary education major from Fowlerville, received third place and $150 for her speech, titled “Secondary School Start Time.”
  • Mikayla Rigda, a communication major from Birch Run, earned $50 as a finalist for her presentation, titled “Adoption Laws in America.”
  • Brittany Rubio, a communication major from New Haven, received $50 as a finalist for her presentation, “Campus Housing Safety.”
  • Austin Teeple, a communication major from Bay Mills, eared $50 as a finalist for his speech, titled “Palm Oil.”

SVSU's annual Sims Public Speaking Contest is sponsored through an endowment funded by Larry and Linda Sims, longtime supporters of the university. Larry Sims recently retired as president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Saginaw County. Linda Sims recently retired as SVSU’s executive director of communications and external affairs. She previously served as chair of the university’s Board of Control.