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If It’s Springtime, It Must Be the Oratory Competition!

Sunshine, flowers, and public speaking! Like “peas and carrots,” springtime in Oakland means it’s time again for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Communication Undergraduate Oratory Competition! The Ides of March brought out the best in Panther student speakers as twenty-two orators competed in four categories for the 26th annual contest. Graduation/Commencement speeches … Speeches on Diversity and Inclusion … Persuasive Speeches on Policy … Ceremonial Values Speeches … we had them all this Saturday morning. As always, many thanks to Dean Twyman and the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences for generous funding. Grateful Thanks to our judges: Jack Gareis and Meredith Guthrie, Elfriede Fursich and Emily Herrington, Marianne Pabis and Lane Grafton, and Molly Martin and Seth Davis.  Thanks to Oral Comm Lab peer coaches Sarah Bernholz and Maribel Fizzano, who assisted with registration and with speech timing. And a Special Thanks to our WPDU Program Administrator, Julie Rosol, who held it all together!

Here are the win-place-and show champions.


  1. Alex Hodge  “Gen Z's Genesis: Navigating Turbulent Times Through Rhetoric and Debate”
  2. Alexa Melnitsky  “The Juxtaposition of a Bittersweet Graduation”
  3. Anna Skerrett  “A Bid Farewell to the 14th Floor”

Diversity and Inclusion

  1. Leyla  Akselioglu  “With Love, an Aromantic”
  2. Julia Ochroch  “The Recent Rise in Antisemitism”
  3. Lucas White  “History of Diversity”

Persuasive Policy

  1. Will Roth  “We Want to Live”
  2. Olivia Leonardis  “My Ex Is Toxic”
  3. Amy Zhang  “SNAP out of it!: Eradicating Food Insecurity with Delivery Solutions”

Ceremonial Values         

  1. Vinit Joshi  “Dr. Paul Farmer: A Champion for Health Equity”
  2. Maggie McLeod  “Smashing China Plates”
  3. Lilyana Acharya  “Of Laws, and Not of Men”

Congratulations to all twenty-two student orators who showed the courage to compete!