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First-Semester University Transfer Student Wins Annual Public Speaking Competition

By Rob Goldberg Jr.
PCC Media Relations Director

Communications instructors Kelly Jones (left) and Joshua Matthews (right) pose for a photo with student Jeremy Piland, winner of this year's public speaking contest.


WINTERVILLE—PCC students recently shared their thoughts on the prospect of a federally-recognized national language for the United States as they competed against one another in a public speaking contest.

Jeremy Piland, a first-year university transfer student from Gates County, took first place in the competition and received a $150-cash prize. Finishing second was Cherif Gueye, followed by Jeff Cross, Demetrus Dixon and Edward Turner.

Organized by instructors Kelly Jones and Joshua Matthews of the college’s Communications Department, the competition took place May 1 in the Craig F. Goess Student Center.

All seven participants were asked to speak on whether or not the United States should have a federally-recognized national language and, if so, what it should be. They were asked to consider the importance of an official language, whether or not it would be unifying, and if having a national language would clash with the perception of America as a ‘cultural melting pot.’

Speakers were awarded points for their introductions, speech content, diction, gestures, eye contact and overall impression. Points were deducted for speeches shorter than four minutes and longer than five.

Piland noted that 55 million U.S. citizens do not speak English and that all Americans are technically ‘immigrants.’ Rather than have one official language, he argued that the US should have “multiple official languages” and suggested that bilingualism would help the nation educationally and economically.

In addition to his cash prize, the 34-year-old Piland will have his name placed on a plaque along with the names of all of the previous public speaking contest winners since the event first took place in 1994.

A total of $400 was awarded to the top five speakers in this year’s contest, which was sponsored by the PCC Student Government Association, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, the PCC Foundation, Minges Bottling Group and Chick-fil-A of Winterville.

Serving as judges for the competition were Ashley Coward, an American Sign Language instructor at South Central High School, East Carolina University’s Victoria Ogden, and Ryan Viviani, learning technology consultant for Humanities, Social Sciences and Language Disciplines for McGraw-Hill Education. Matthews was the event’s official timer.