Five members of Emerson’s Forensics Team have qualified for the National Forensics Association, a speech and debate competition. Heather May, the group’s director, said she’s hopeful the speakers can break into the final round of the 300-competitor event in Muncie, Indiana, this April.
May has been running Emerson's 60-year-old forensics program since 2005.
“We have had a small, but mighty team taking first place in tournaments, even with small numbers,” May said of Emerson’s eight-person team. “That’s how talented they are.”
Students must place first in their category at a regular season tournament to qualify for nationals, according to May. The categories include persuasive, informative, prose, poetry, drama, and after-dinner speaking. In persuasion, informative, and after-dinner speaking, speakers write original pieces. Prose, poetry, and drama speakers combine excerpts from different works of literature to interpret.
Three members of the team won regional titles this past Sunday at the New England Regional Championship in Boston. Freshman marketing communication major Kelley Guerra won in the persuasion category; senior communication studies major Amanda Canny won in informative; and junior performing arts and political communication double major Marion Kinosian won in both after-dinner speaking and prose.
Kinosian, president, said the team has attended four competitions this year. Three took place in Boston and one in Manchester, New Hampshire.
“We held our own very well in the last tournament,” Kinosian said. “Winning comes down to working really hard, we just have to put in the time and be more self-motivated.”
According to Kinosian, speakers write their own pieces about issues they find important. She uses her comedic after-dinner speech to send a message about the presidential election.
“I talk about how we have extremely low voter turnout.” she said. “I talk about possible solutions. Then I sing a bunch, and joke about my mixtape and Star Wars.”
Hayden Ventresca, a sophomore communication sciences and disorders major, is vice president and treasurer of the team. Ventresca qualified at the New Hampshire tournament in November for poetry and persuasion, and she said she’s prepared for this year’s national competition.
“Going and watching nationals, you just learn so much,” Ventresca said. “It’s so emotional because people really put their heart and soul into it and talk about what they’re passionate about.”
Ventresca said that being a part of forensics has helped her develop several skills for the job market. In the two years she’s been on the team, she said, she has learned to manage stress of important events and communicate more confidently.
“You don’t have to be a good public speaker,” Ventresca said. “For so long, I would be so nervous to get up and speak. You just have to have something you want to say.”