Elkin High School student Missy Fuentes-Delgado represented the Yadkin Valley Rotary Club at the annual Four Way Test high school speech contest for Rotary District 7690.
Although she didn’t have the winning speech, the experience provided insight for both Fuentes-Delgado as well as members of Rotary and the community.
Held at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, the district speech contest can lead to other possible opportunities.
“One of the best physicians I ever met was a physician from Japan,” said Rotarian Dr. Steve Erlandson. “He had participated in the Rotary speech contest in Japan in 1964 and he won for the whole country.”
Erlandson revealed the Japanese doctor received a college education anywhere in the world as his prize, which lead him to North Carolina.
“He worked at Hugh Chatham Emergency Room some back in the ‘80s and now he’s a professor at Ohio State University. He started in his local area and moved up,” said Erlandson. “That’s just one little story about how a little school boy in Japan, his parents were poor is what he said, and how Rotary helps people.”
Fuentes-Delgado may not be headed for an all-expenses paid education to anywhere in the world, but her experience did lead her to an enhanced education.
“There is definitely a lot of work involved, but the experience was awesome,” said Fuentes-Delgado, who had watched her older sister, Brandy, go through the experience the previous year.
“I have given plenty of presentations and spoken in front of groups of people, but giving a speech is in itself intimidating to beginners,” said Fuentes-Delgado. She was concerned she would forget the words she had written.
“Public speaking is a skill that can only be learned through experience,” said Rotarian Mary Blackburn, “but getting up on a stage and speaking without notes is not an easy task.”
Just writing a speech for the first time was challenging for Fuentes-Delgado.
“I am so used to writing English and history papers, so switching the format and voice for it was a change for me, because you have to use your own voice in the speech, not the proper and formal English paper voice because that would just sound funny to others,” she said.
It was important to Fuentes-Delgado that her speech not sound funny because the topic, suicide, was so serious.
“Writing about this topic was very difficult in a way because I can’t imagine their pain, but in another sense it was just flowing,” said Fuentes-Delgado, who got the idea after attending Catalyst Conference at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
“Before I attended the conference, I had no clue what I was going to write about,” said Fuentes-Delgado. “But as soon as I got back home I knew what I was writing about. It took me hours to write, because I would just start crying and thinking about how others who actually experience this must be going through.
“I knew that whatever I did I wanted to share this experience with others and it eventually came together nicely.”
Fuentes-Delgado credited members of the Yadkin Valley Rotary Club in part for the success of her experience as well as the encouragement of her sister.
“The Rotarians were all very genuine, nice, and encouraging. They offered great help and advice in hearing and helping me fix my speech as well as helping me register and allowing me to represent them in the contest,” said Fuentes-Delgado, who was not surprised by the assistance.
“Rotary is a great club filled with community members who strive for the betterment of themselves and others. Rotary Club is a nonprofit organization that brings together business people and leaders from the community, and they collaborate and contribute to make change all around the world. Rotary, in my opinion, is a great organization of community members that act on the betterment of our communities, and I really appreciate the efforts they make.”
Rotarians also were impressed with Fuentes-Delgado.
“Missy is an outstanding Elkin High student who is also a leader in Interact,” said Blackburn. “She is a great student to be able to highlight for being willing to take on additional challenges and opportunities. “
One of those opportunities is encouraging others to participate in speech contests.
“I would definitely encourage others to participate because it is a great experience to learn new things. Through this, I learned to write and give a speech, made connections with people from Rotary, spread awareness about a topic often ignored, and I witnessed some great speeches given by other students as well.”
To learn how to participate in next year’s Rotary speech contest or to find out more about the Yadkin Valley Rotary Club, go to yadkinvalleyrotary.org.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.