Information technology major tops in annual Institute Public Speaking Contest

Perils of text messaging while driving explained in speech

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Will Dube

From left, Kyle O’Neill, Elizabeth Reeves O’Connor, Kayla Rohr, Keri Barone and Ryan Burst. Burst won the top honor May 6 in RIT’s Institute Public Speaking Contest. He, O’Neill and Rohr are students in an Advanced Public Speaking course taught this spring by Barone and O’Connor.

Ryan Burst, a fourth-year information technology major, earned the top honor in RIT’s 20th annual Institute Public Speaking Contest, sponsored by the Department of Communication, held Wednesday on campus.

Burst’s speech, “Texting While Driving,” was selected as the best by a panel of faculty judges. Participants had been tasked with persuading an audience of RIT students and faculty about an issue relevant to the RIT community using six to eight minutes.

Other finalists, chosen from among a record 77 participants, included Kyle O’Neill, a third-year graphic media marketing major, and Kayla Rohr, a fourth-year American Sign Language interpreter education major. Each finalist is currently a student in Advanced Public Speaking, co-taught by Keri Barone and Elizabeth Reeves O’Connor, lecturers in communication in the College of Liberal Arts.

“These three were very deserving finalists—they clearly represent the best of RIT,” says O’Connor. “Not only are they great students and speakers, but they are also genuine, friendly people. We were lucky to have them in class.”

Students in the class presented their speeches at this year’s Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival.

The public speaking competition, open to all RIT students, includes fall and spring contests.