Winners of the Nichols College Annual Elevator Speech Competition announced

April 11, 2024
Elevator Speech competition

Nichols College held its 12th annual Elevator Speech Competition on April 8 in Daniels Auditorium, yielding four prize winners.  

The Elevator Speech Competition is an annual tradition at Nichols College where students test their communication and public speaking skills. Participants are challenged to create and deliver a one-minute speech to Nichols community audience members; awards include cash prizes of up to $500.  

In front of an excited crowd and a panel of alumni judges, 20 students delivered memorable orations. The winners include: 

First place: Leena Basma ’26, major in accounting. Prize $500 

Second place: Tasana Walsh ’26, major in psychology. Prize $400 

Third place: Sofia Leonardi ’26, major in general business. Prize $300 

Fourth place: Luis Garcia III ’26, major in corporate finance & investment. Prize $200  

Basma, the winner, said keeping any doubts or fears at bay was the key to her successful performance. She took an approach that helped her stay confident. 

“An elevator pitch is traditionally seen as pitching yourself to other people. But I looked at it through a different lens for the competition, because an elevator pitch isn’t only that. I think it’s also about pitching yourself to yourself, remembering all your accomplishments. It’s about regaining confidence in yourself.” 

She said her courses at Nichols also played a part in helping her win. “A lot of my business classes are focused on having students give presentations on their work, to get us comfortable with delivering our ideas verbally and not just in writing.”  

Cathy Temple, M.A., Assistant Professor of Communication, says the competition has endured for 12 years because of the importance of public speaking in students’ careers. “Nichols College emphasizes this skill in many areas because, as we all know, soft skills are ubiquitously sought after. 

“We emphasize public speaking skills in our Career and Professional Development Center during mock interview sessions, through our required public speaking courses, and of course, in the competition itself. Its importance is highlighted throughout their academic career, and not just once a year.” 

Gabriel Smith ’26 served as master of ceremonies, with judging provided by Fran Carlo ’90; Jillian Coyle ’09, MBA ’11, MSOL ’16; Katelynn Havener Mochun ’12, MBA ’17; and Tara Ostromecky ’22. 

The event was sponsored by Fran & Dawn Carlo and Jillian Coyle. 

Watch the full competition here:  

About Nichols College  

Nichols College has earned business accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the longest serving global accrediting body for business schools and the largest business education network connecting learners, educators, and businesses worldwide. Founded in 1815, Nichols College transforms today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders through a dynamic, career-focused business and professional education. Nichols offers real-world learning focused on professional depth – combined with vibrant living, competitive athletics, and an unmatched alumni advantage – equipping students to exceed their own expectations. To learn more about Nichols College, visit  

Media Contact:  

Denise Kelley  

Marketing and Communications Writer/Editor