Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn public speaking competition awards sophomore

Auburn Speaks, the biannual public speaking competition, took place on Thursday at the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center.

The competition has been held since 2017 and aims to showcase the speeches students give in their public speaking course. 1700 speeches were narrowed down to just six finalists with the opportunity to win the Phillip Lutzenkirchen Award in Public Speaking. 

Jennifer Johnson, director of public speaking, said the competition was made to highlight speeches that were only being shown within the classroom. 

“We were hearing lots of great speeches, but it was just all in the classroom," Johnson said. 

The second reason the competition came into existence was to commemorate Phillip Lutzenkirchen, the former Auburn tight-end and communications student, who tragically passed away in 2014 from a car accident. The foundation named in his honor, Lutzie43, awards the winner with a $4,300 prize, reflecting the number he wore.

Johnson said students from every public speaking section, 72 in total, vote on a classmate to move onto the semifinal round, who present their speech before a panel of judges. Johnson said speeches of every variety from students of every background commonly make it to the final round. 

“It's different every semester," Johnson said. “One semester you may have something that is medical based, and the next semester it may be something that is just completely off the wall topic that you’ve never heard of.”

The finalists were led off by D.T. Carmichael II, sophomore in aviation management, who gave a commanding speech on the study of time, and the effect time has on everyone. Next, Paul Doan, junior in biomedical sciences, presented his knowledge of osteoarthritis, which is the deterioration of the knee cartilage.

Andrew Jenkins, sophomore in business, then took the stage to talk about the Auburn Creed, and how it has played a role in both his life and Auburn Alum, Tim Cook’s. Faith Miller, sophomore in psychology, followed by discussing how the brain falls in love, and the processes that allow it to do so. 

Halina Speece, freshman in communications, gave her speech on flow, which she described as the headspace that allows for efficient work. Finally, SaraBeth Wajnberg, sophomore in law and justice, took the stage to give a bold and personal speech about sex trafficking. Wajnberg highlighted important information on the topic, and what it looks like in today’s world. 

While the judges’ scores were tallied, Bill Butler and Kim Hudson, two board members of the Lutzie43 foundation took the stage with three recipients of the Prepared for life scholarship for a Q&A on their experiences and what the scholarship means to them.

The foundation works alongside Phillip’s family to promote safe driving practices. Phillip’s father, Mike, who regularly attends Auburn Speaks to discuss the topic, was unable to make it because of other commitments with the foundation.

After the Q&A, the finalists retook the stage to hear the results. Paul Doan and Halina Speece received a $500 award for placing second and third, respectively. SaraBeth Wajnberg was awarded the Phillip Lutzenkirchen award in public speaking to the resounding applause of friends and family present. 

Wajnberg said she chose her topic based on her own experience of nearly being trafficked, and her hopes to advocate for it in the future.

“I'm studying law and justice currently, and I am hoping that within the next few years, I can sort of get more into the fight against human trafficking," Wajnberg said. "As I mentioned in my speech, I experienced it firsthand in Atlanta. So I did this speech because I don't think people realize how common it is and how many people it can truly affect."

Wajnberg went on to say how she was honored to be a recipient of the award and recognized the impactful work the organization does.

“It feels truly incredible to be part of something bigger than myself,” Wajnberg said."It really is awesome that this entire foundation has made such an impact on other people, and I’m so glad to be a part of that.”

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Auburn Plainsman delivered to your inbox

Tyler Schmidt | News Writer

Tyler Schmidt, junior in culinary science, writes for The Plainsman news section. 

Share and discuss “Auburn public speaking competition awards sophomore” on social media.