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April 22, 2024

SVSU students excel in national speech tournaments

Team secures top 10 finish at National Speech Championship for first time in SVSU history

Two people in light suits holding trophy and medals

Saginaw Valley State University’s competitive speech team stood out in two recent competitions in a lead-up to the final tournament of the season.

At the end of two days of intense competition at the National Speech Championship at the University of Illinois at Chicago on March 23 and 24, the team achieved a university first, breaking the top 10 to finish at No. 7.

In addition to a stand-out team finish, two SVSU students each earned at least five separate final round appearances.

Evangeline Cruz, a communication and Spanish major from Detroit, claimed the individual national championship in interviewing. Her other results include:

  • 2nd Place, Dramatic Interpretation
  • 4th Place, Prose Interpretation
  • 4th Place, Poetry Interpretation
  • 6th Place, Duo Interpretation with fellow SVSU student Nimnan Wuyep
  • Semi-finalist, Persuasive Speaking

As a result of this win, Cruz was offered a paid internship with the National Speech Championship Organization, where she will work to help improve future tournaments.

Nimnan Wuyep, a communication and international studies major from Tanzania, also performed well. Along with the sixth-place finish in Duo Interpretation with Cruz, Wuyep’s results include:

  • Semi-finalist, Prose Interpretation
  • Semi-finalist, Interviewing
  • Quarter-finalist, Poetry Interpretation
  • Quarter-finalist, Impromptu Speaking

In addition to competing in the National Speech Championship, SVSU made its first appearance in the Asynchronous Speech Competition, which took place March 20-24, finishing seventh in the Limited Entry Division.

In the ASC competition, Cruz was a semi-finalist in dramatic interpretation, placing in the top 12 of 71 entrants. Other students who contributed to the team’s success include Wuyep; Rylee Pickoff, a teacher education major from Clinton Township; Maia Clynick, a psychology major from Freeland; and Nicole “Nikki” Rooseboom, teacher education major from Plainwell.

Coached by Amy Pierce, SVSU associate professor of communication, and Ryan Rigda, SVSU lecturer of communications, the competitive speech team has practiced diligently throughout the school year, building on previous years’ experiences to hone their skills.

“Amy and I are incredibly proud of the hard work of all our students this year,” said Rigda. “Their continued success is a direct result of their commitment to continual improvement of their craft.”

Two of SVSU’s well-spoken competitors are competing at the National Forensics Association National Championship Tournament at Central Michigan University from Friday, April 19, through Monday, April 22. Cruz qualified in five events and Wuyep qualified in four.

To cap off her undergraduate competitive speaking experience before she graduates in May, Cruz will represent SVSU and the state of Michigan at the 150th Interstate Oratorical Association Tournament, which will be hosted by the University of Illinois-Chicago from Friday, April 26, through Sunday, April 28. This is the first time an SVSU student has represented the state at this tournament, which is the oldest public speaking competition in the country.