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March 14, 2023

Thorough preparation pays off for SVSU orators

Competitive Speech Team places 3rd at State Championship; individuals excel at 2023 competitions

students holding trophies and medals

The eight members of Saginaw Valley State University’s Competitive Speech team have talked their way to success at competitions this year. Most recently, the team placed 3rd in the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League’s (MISL) State Championship, which was held on March 4 at Eastern Michigan University. This is the first time the team has placed in the top 3 at the state competition.  

Leading up to the State Championship, the team made strong showings in February at the MISL Novice State Championship and the “Pirates of the Competition” tournament, hosted by Bowling Green State University.  

Thanks to these successes, Evangeline Cruz, a communication major from Detroit, and Nimnan Wyep, an international studies and communication major from Nigeria, have qualified for the National Forensic Association National Championship that will be held in April at Bradley University in Illinois. 

Coaches Ryan Rigda, SVSU lecturer of communications, and Amy Pierce, associate professor of communication, expressed their pride in this year’s team. 

“I am especially proud of the commitment and dedication shown by our students this season,” Pierce said. “They have formed a cohesive team that encourages and motivates one another, making their success even more special.”

At competitive speech tournaments, students compete in several events. In addition to individual rankings in these events, their performances contribute to the overall team score. 

Seven team members competed at the state championship contest, with several placing in individual events. 

  • Cruz, a third-year team member, placed 4th in Persuasive Speaking, 6th in Poetry Interpretation, and 6th in Prose Interpretation.   
  • Wuyep, a first-year member, was named the 2023 state champion in Poetry Interpretation. He also earned Top Novice distinction in Poetry, Persuasive Speaking and Dramatic Interpretation. Additionally, Wuyep placed 2nd in Dramatic Interpretation and 5th in Persuasive Speaking.  
  • Cruz and Wuyep were also recognized as Top Speakers in the category of Quadrathon. To be entered in Quadrathon, students must be entered in at least four events which span the three genres of limited preparation, public address and interpretation. Wuyep placed 2nd in Quadrathon and Cruz placed 3rd.  
  • Nicole (Nikki) Rooseboom, a teacher education major from Plainwell, placed 6th in Persuasive Speaking. She is a first-year member of the team.  
  • First year members Sammyra Nieves-Rivera, a political science major from Dearborn, and Harold Rodriguez Pupo, a pre-health professions major from Cuba, placed 4th in Duo Interpretation. They were also recognized as the Top Novices in this event.  

 Rodriguez also competed in Prose Interpretation, receiving a second Top Novice award, and Nieves also competed in Informative Speaking.  

  • Rylee Pickoff, a teacher education major from Clinton Township, competed in Dramatic Interpretation. She is a first-year member of the team.  
  • Maia Clynick, a dual-enrolled student from Freeland and first-year team member, competed in the Impromptu Speaking event. 

Rigda said he is especially proud of the three students who placed in the Persuasive Speaking event.

“All 3 of these students are past finalists of the Sims Public Speaking Competition at SVSU, hosted by the Department of Communication each fall,” he said. “Evangeline and Nimnan have both won the competition. I think this highlights the passion, dedication, and work ethic of SVSU students.” 

Several members of the team will travel to Ball State University in Indiana for the National Speech Championship March 18-19.