The Harper College Speech Team finished fourth in the nation at the recent Phi Rho Pi National community college speech and debate tournament, besting dozens of fellow community colleges and boasting two individual champions. Elisa Galvan of Schaumburg and Brianna Bitout of Arlington Heights netted gold medals for extemporaneous and impromptu speaking, respectively.
More than 60 community colleges competed at the event, held in Woodland Hills, Calif.
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"We are proud of this team's competitive accomplishments at this tournament, and also of their development throughout the season," says Professor Jeff Przybylo, who coaches the team along with Professor Josh Sunderbruch and Assistant Professor Margaret Bilos. "They are strong communicators and leaders, and those skills will serve them well even after they've left Harper."
Eight of the team's 30 speeches made it to the final rounds at the nationals meet, and the team -- in addition to its two national champions -- yielded six silver and bronze medalists: Andy Robinson of Palatine, (Silver, Speech to Entertain), Jackie Van Lysebettens of Hoffman Estates (Silver, Speech to Entertain and Bronze, Program Oral Interpretation), Kate Fundarek of Hoffman Estates (Bronze, Persuasion), Galvan (Bronze, Impromptu Speaking) and Anthony Suchala of Schaumburg (Bronze, Dramatic Interpretation). The team, whose members also get one-on-one coaching from Harper alumni, finished third at the state meet earlier this year.
For more than 15 years, Harper's squad has been among the most competitive in the country, landing in the top 10 nationally for the past 12 years and collecting more than 30 national gold medals.
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