News Release| Communication Studies department; Cal State L.A.

CSULA student earns top distinction at forensic speech event

 National Individual Events Tournaments selects 10 for its All-American Team 

Los Angeles, CA—Earning one of the highest distinctions within the forensic speech community, Cal State L.A.’s communication studies senior Holland Michelle Smith was recently named one of the 10 members of the All-American Team at the American Forensic Association’s (AFA) 36th National Individual Events Tournament. 

Smith, who was chosen out of 496 competitors, joins a group of students from across the country who excel in forensic speech, scholastic achievement, and community service. The award was presented at the 2013 AFA National Individual Events Tournament, hosted recently by the Hutchinson Community College, in Hutchinson, Kansas. 

“All of the coaching staff is very proud of Holland’s recognition as an All-American. She is a paradigm example of an active student,” said Geoffrey BrodakSilva, director of the CSULA forensic squad. “For the last two years, she has been a fixture on our team, tirelessly donating her time to make both the squad and the community stronger.” 

Holland also placed 27th out of 131 students who competed in this year’s After Dinner Speaking event, which features original, humorous speeches by the students, designed to exhibit sound speech composition, thematic, coherence, direct communicative public speaking skills, and good taste. Overall, CSULA’s forensic squad, which includes Holland, Vish Rajiv and Victor Cornejo, took 46th place out of the 78 schools in the nation. CSULA was one of the top two college teams in California. 

Holland’s past accolades include top speaker awards at different tournaments, including Mt. Sac, Point Loma and Glendale, and in CSULA’s district, which is comprised of Arizona, Nevada and California. 

“The AFA tournament overall was a very rewarding and challenging experience,” said Smith. “I took five speeches to the tournament, and to simply have my speeches qualify to compete beside other such amazing performances was an achievement in itself.”  

Holland—who is working toward a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in women’s studies—serves as president of the CSULA Forensics Speech and Debate club. She is currently residing in Los Feliz in Los Angeles, but was raised in the city of San Clemente in Orange County. 

“It has been so much fun being a part of this team and representing CSULA at tournaments all over the United States,” said Holland. “My coaches and fellow students have taught me so much. I am so grateful for their time, encouragement, patience, and knowledge. I have learned how to connect and be less vulnerable with an audience, and how amazing it feels to give characters a voice.”  

Holland’s next goal is to become a speech coach to help other students have the life-changing experiences she has received being part of the CSULA team.  

“Becoming a coach is important to me because it will allow me to stay connected and give back to a community that changed my life,” said Holland. “Ultimately, I would like to take the tools that I have learned in forensics, and the degree I am pursuing, to be an advocate for women’s rights in third world countries.” 

Founded in 1949, the American Forensic Association aims to seek greater understanding of the history and practice of reasoned discourse as a sound basis for public involvement. The NIET, which is organized by the Association, comprises of 11 events where students must qualify to compete.  

For a listing of students in the All-American Team: http://dworth.web.rice.edu/niet_all_americans.htm.

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