Fletcher Features

Students, Staff Inspire with Speeches at “Faces of Community”

In a banner event for the Arts of Communication courses, twelve students and one staff member recreated five minute speeches - TED-talk style - for the “Faces of Community” event held Tuesday, March 28 in ASEAN.

Mihir Mankad, Deputy Director of the Edward R. Murrow Center for a Digital World, and the lecturer for The Arts of Communication class, said the speeches were carefully selected from a pool of several hundred and chosen with the event in mind.

This is the fifth time an event of its kind has been produced and the course has been steadily growing in popularity. “It is the highest subscribed elective at the school over the past four years,” Mankad said.

Speech topics ranged from odes to country music and red shoes, to reflections on hopes and dreams. Lauren Eades kicked off the night with "The Power of Dreaming Big," describing a memorable trip to New York City with her father.

Art Desloges urged the audience to, “choose the moment when we speak up for our values,” in his speech entitled “Rise Up,” while Natalie LaHood used her turn at the mic to take a playful stab at defending the merits of a popular, but oft-maligned, music genre in “Country Music, Reframed."

Trish Basile reminisced about a special pair of “Red Shoes” her family once sent her: “For me, Dorothy’s red shoes are like my family: They’re always there, they’re always willing, they’re always ready to help you find home.”

Nathan Finberg, who was a student of the Arts of Communication class last semester, remembered listening to the powerful speeches and feeling inspired to write one of his own. “As Professor Mankad says, his goal for us is that we produce at least one speech that we would want to share with our children or grandchildren someday,” he said.

Finberg talked about the challenges he’s faced, and the useful life skills he’s gained as an insulin pump-wearing Type 1 Diabetic in his speech “My Opaque Pocket.” “Above all, it’s taught me the impact of a positive disposition,” he said.

Though at times daunting, the process of speech writing proved cathartic and empowering, noted Mariya Ilyas. In “Feeling Wanted,” she revealed a touching moment between her and her father. "Baba is the bedrock of my confidence, motivation and self-worth," she said to the crowd. “My speech is about a story my father shared with me when I moved to Boston after college — but more than that, it's a speech about the ever-resolute bond that my father and I share,” she said.

Active duty Army officer, Brian Harthorn shared his experience in a moving presentation, "The Last Full Measure.” “I wrote it this past November around Veteran’s Day. Having experienced half a dozen deployments, you find yourself thinking about those you’ve served with and those who’ve paid the last full measure of devotion,” he explained.

Molly Haragan encouraged the crowd to “Let Your Light Shine” and said her inspiration came from a fond memory. “It really comes from a simple childhood memory of my mom constantly reminding me, through those four words, to sit up straight. As I grew older, I realized how much more those four words meant to me and how I embrace them in my everyday life. ‘Letting your light shine’ means that when you decide to do something, anything, you do it with energy, confidence, power and pride,” she explained.

Haragan credited taking the Arts of Communication course with teaching her many valuable skills: “While strengthening speaking and presentation skills was obviously of great importance, I actually found the art of speech writing and telling a story to be the most valuable skill gained. The need to tell a story that resonates is much harder than I had realized,” she said.

Mankad is excited to continue producing the event: “The speeches are incredibly inspiring. In five minutes, students learn to be efficient and immediately impactful. Hearing these honest, often ‘core-value’ speeches brings our community together, and shares a voice.”

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