Student Speaking Event Goes Online for COVID-19 Charity
Students from Northern Essex Community College have found an innovative way to raise money for those affected by COVID-19. A previously planned public speaking and fundraising event, called Speechapalooza, will now be held on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube from Wednesday-Friday, April 29-May 1 to recognize speeches from NECC community members and spread awareness of the college’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
Speechapalooza features the best student speakers at Northern Essex Community College sharing topics they are passionate about. Every year it features entertaining, informative and political speeches given by students and has drawn audiences of over 100 people. This will be the event’s sixth consecutive year.
Previous years have featured speeches about topics like ways to solve climate change and the legality and morality of US President Donald Trump’s actions.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, students of NECC’s Principles of Public Relations class, which is running the event, have decided to take the event online to bring people together virtually. These student producers will present and host the event as well as accept donations for NECC’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
The COVID-19 Emergency Fund provides laptop and/or internet access, tuition assistance and stipends for students dealing with food insecurity and trying to learn remotely. It also fills other needs connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Especially in a challenging time like this, we want to give students an opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions,” says Jasmine Sanchez of Haverhill, a co-chair of the event’s student-run Executive Planning Committee. “We don’t often get to hear what students want to say, so adapting rather than cancelling the event is a no-brainer.”
The Executive Planning Committee is asking NECC community members to send their speeches and general inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org by Fri, April 24. The committee recommends that students submit video recordings of themselves using whatever format they are most comfortable with. Submissions may or may not include a slideshow presentation.
Student speeches are being submitted both directly by students and by public speaking professors who nominate students from the classes they teach.
In addition to student speeches, the event is scheduled to feature presentations by Allison M. Dolan-Wilson, a coordinator of the COVID-19 Emergency Fund, and Elizabeth Mura, NECC’s Campus Compact AmeriCorps Vista member and Community Resources Department member.
Dolan-Wilson is expected to speak about NECC’s coronavirus relief fund and Mura about AmeriCorps’s on-campus efforts to mitigate student hunger.
“I spoke at Speechapalooza last year after being signed up by my public speaking teacher. My speech was comedic and it was a big hit for the crowd,” says NECC Liberal Arts student William Tapley of Sandown, NH. At 2019’s Speechapalooza he jokingly spoke about killing all people named “William.” He quipped that doing so would be an efficient way to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, as his is a globally popular name.
“Speechapalooza is for sure a unique opportunity for the NECC student body,” Tapley says.
“Public speaking is an important skill for students to learn,” NECC Public Relations Professor Dave Rattigan says. “It will improve your school, career and life experiences.”
“The tenacity with which our PR students pursued this event shows a lot about how hard-working NECC communications students are.” says Speechapalooza co-host Trey Cruz of Lawrence.
The event is planned to be co-hosted by Cruz, Cole St. Jean of Plaistow, NH, Alyse Festa of North Andover and Dylan Musgrave of Atkinson, NH.
The Executive Planning Committee consists of Sanchez, Amari Butler of Methuen, Jonas Ruzek of Amesbury and Andrew Venditti and Jessica Kramer of Haverhill. Other students involved in coordinating the event include Tapley, John DiBurro and Rachel Anderson of Haverhill, Evan O’Connell of Reading, Julia Matos of Groveland, Dilenia Martinez of Lawrence, Finbarr Arsenault of Amesbury and Katherine Townsend of Merrimac.