Oratorical Contest


Rebecca Starn takes first place

Rebecca Starn ’18, a psychology and food and nutrition double major from Findlay, Ohio, was named the winner of Bluffton University’s annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest. Starn’s speech, “Peace through Female Education,” shed light on how restrictions placed on the education of girls in foreign nations inhibits the efforts of peace throughout the world and also promotes violence in the name of peace.

She earned $175 and will compete against winning students from other North American Mennonite colleges during the bi-national competition.

Angel Huerta ’19, a general studies major from Archbold, Ohio, came in second with her speech, “The Epidemic of Domestic Violence.” Huerta’s speech outlined the startling statistics surrounding domestic violence and offered solutions that promote a change in societal attitudes toward domestic violence.

Jonah Eckert ’19, a general studies major from Terra Haute, Ind., earned third place with his speech titled, “Fighting Hunger to Promote Peace.” Eckert’s speech explained that the United States government should play a bigger role in fighting hunger in developing countries in an effort to promote peace, stability and stronger relationships.

The contest is named in honor of C. Henry Smith, an early 20th-century Mennonite historian and a professor at Bluffton as well as at Goshen College.

The C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest began in in 1975. However, the oratorical-tradition has much deeper roots as Bluffton held its first oratorical prize contest in 1905 during commencement week.

“Peace oratory contests provide our students with the experience of speaking publicly about the challenges to peace in our time,” said Dr. Gerald Mast, professor of communication. “The contest also encourages both speakers and audience members to think creatively about how we can all be part of the solution to the violence that remains all around us.”

First place winners of the peace oratorical contest at Bluffton University have frequently won prizes at the intercollegiate level including last year’s bi-national winner, Emily Huxman ‘17, from Waterloo, Ontario.