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Nichols College

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Sophomore Wins Elevator Speech Competition

None of the seventeen Nichols students was riding an elevator with a potential employer on the night of April 2nd, but in a one-minute speech before a student audience in Davis Hall, each made the case for why he or she is eminently employable.

The occasion was the second annual Nichols Elevator Speech Competition, for which students have to summarize their educational background, qualifications, and work experiences in a monologue lasting 60 seconds or less, and using no notes.

“They were definitely out of their comfort zones,” says Associate Dean and Business Communication Chair Luanne Westerling, who originated the competition last spring, when seven students participated. This year’s crop “was really outstanding,” she notes. “They nailed it.”

Sophomore Colin Whitney came away with the $300 first prize, followed by juniors Amanda Anderson and Alexandra M. Euglow, who won $200 and $100 respectively.

Whitney’s speech focused on his ability to overcome obstacles. After his father lost his job during the recent recession, Whitney revealed, his family lost its home in foreclosure.

“I could (A) have either become extremely depressed and given up my academics, sports, and friends,” Whitney said in his presentation. “Or I could (B) have taken it as a learning opportunity and be better from it. I used this event as a motivation to do better in school, sports, and to be an all around better person.”

“This was a very personal topic for me,” Whitney points out. “My family’s financial situation has been part of my life since high school. I could speak from the heart.”

In her speech, third place finisher Euglow underscored her experiences as a resident assistant and head tutor at Nichols and as a teacher of English Language Learners during a trip to Puerto Rico.

Euglow, who plans to enter the teaching profession after she graduates, concluded her presentation to a supposed school administrator, “Once again, I am Alley, and I am a passionate teacher who would love the opportunity to teach at your high school.”

The students’ speeches will go farther than last month’s competition and any chance meetings in elevators, says Westerling. “In the future, they could devise a pitch for themselves in a job interview or even pitch an idea of a business,” she observes.

Whitney adds that he has already put his approach to work in three interviews for marketing internships. “Tell me something I don’t know,” several of the interviewers have asked. “I’m a determined individual who can overcome obstacles, whether it be an assignment or a task,” Whitney has responded.

Whitney, who plans to enter next year’s Elevator Speech Competition, also plans to keep using his personally-based pitch in the future. “It’s a very powerful topic,” he concludes.