James Waller took home the $100 prize at the Entrepreneurs club’s speak-off last Wednesday, as well as the chance to represent Hudson Valley at SUNY Plattsburgh in March.
“There are a lot of people out there with a ton of great ideas, and it’s platforms like this that really spark the excitement, not just in the individual or the organization, but in the campus. This is the epitome of what an entrepreneur club should be doing.” said Waller, engineering sciences student, after the competition.
Waller will be part of a four-person team to go to Plattsburgh on Mar. 4 to compete against 12 other colleges. In the past, teams have been given a real product to design and market, and have been required to present their ideas to the actual owners of the brand. The team will have the chance to win up to $7,000 in prize money at the competition.
Waller’s speech centered on the declining population of Hamilton County, where he was raised, and the need for a community college in the area. During the competition, speakers were asked to present a three to four minute speech that proposed a solution to a theoretical social problem they might be faced with as a social entrepreneur. There were 14 students who participated, and their topics ranged from the lack of education in third-world countries to how to ask someone out.
Emily Connolly, who is currently a non-matriculated student hoping to enter the entrepreneurship program, took second place and was declared the competition’s alternate. Connolly outlined her idea to give a percentage of profits from a food-truck business to organizations that feed hungry children in the nation.
Speech criteria included both content evaluation, such as relevance to the topic and speech development, and speech mechanics, such as volume and body language. Professors John Meehan and Joseph Stenard, as well as president of the club Sandra Thomas acted as judges.
Stenard addressed the contestants as the speak-off drew to a close. “The presentation skills were excellent, the topics were excellent, there was a lot of emotion and feeling in these [speeches], and I commend you for doing it. This process is not for cowards,” he said.