The tournament is being funded by the Westmont Provost’s Office as well as a generous gift from Montecito resident Jean Svoboda. The event, which is free and open to the public, includes a raffle for audience members.
Kyle, who is from San Diego, and Monroe, who is from Tustin, are the final two students out of 54 who signed up for the debate category of the event. The grand prize winner will receive $500 and the runner up will earn $250. The great speeches student finalists are Sara Reinis ’14, Kaitlyn Turner ’12, and Bri Popineau ’14. Allen Hopkins ’95, an alumnus, Westmont trustee and ESPN sportscaster, will emcee the event.
The students will be judged by a panel that includes Hillary Chrisley, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church; Betty Sue Sherrod, lead pastor of First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara; Jamie Friedman, Westmont assistant professor of English; Deborah Dunn, Westmont professor of communication studies; and Greg Spencer, Westmont professor of communication studies.
“This tournament has never been more important,” says Omedi Ochieng, Westmont professor of communication studies, who has organized the event for the past six years. “It demonstrates that students can speak and argue truthfully, with conviction and passion, while modeling the virtues of listening, respect for those we disagree with and thoughtful deliberation. It is living proof of the importance of the liberal arts in fostering a democratic culture.”
Kacie Kyne ’13, co-director of this year’s Tournament of Expressions, says students have been competing weekly since late January. “The tournament creates an important forum for students to find their voices,” she says. “Students from all disciplines not only practice public speaking and thinking on their feet, but also acquire the skill of eloquent expression.”