Sophomore Elise Mihranian, of Chester Springs, Pa., won the $1000 prize at the Bailey Oratorical with her speech about technology’s impact on relationships. Mihranian discusses her experience below.
Q: How and why did you decide to interpret the topic the way you did?
A: The topic was ‘interesting times” and I think even more than technology my speech was about how relationships have deteriorated in our society. Technology has only been an enabler for that to happen. We don’t have to communicate face-to-face anymore. I picked that topic because this past fall I deleted my Facebook for about two or three months and I was so much happier without it. It was interesting to see the people I was actually friends with who found other ways to contact me and would make time to call and ask me what was going on in my life because they couldn’t just “creep” anymore. That’s why I chose the topic, and I think it’s something everybody can relate to, especially in our generation.
Q: How did you prepare for the speech?
A: I probably did 30-plus hours on my speech, and probably just 15 hours of that was meetings with the communications professors. They helped me so much. I actually scratched my speech a couple times and started over from the beginning, keeping the same idea but restructuring it. The speech wasn’t final until about two hours before. Other than that: reading it to a lot of people to see if they were getting the points I wanted them to take away from it. I could read it in my sleep at this point.
Q: Why did you decide to compete in the Bailey’s?
A: The Comm professors really pushed me to do it. I didn’t write my speech until the night before the preliminaries and I told Sarah Worley that I didn’t think I was going to do it because I didn’t have enough written. She told me the year she won the Bailey she had written her speech the night before the preliminary, and so I did. My professors were really encouraging.
Q: What was your reaction when your name was called as the winner?
A: I was shocked. To be included in such a talented group of students was huge and it really meant a lot to me just to be a part of that group. Everyone’s speeches were great and I really thought it could have gone to anybody. When my name was called I was shocked. I was so excited that I completely forgot I won the money for about thirty minutes, and then I got excited again when I remembered that.
Q: What are you planning to do with the money?
A: My first instinct was that I need a new phone, but that would be just way too much irony because my whole speech was about technology ruining our relationships. I’m going to Africa with the politics department this summer so some of the money will go towards that. The rest I’ll probably put away.