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Speak Up! Audio Essay Contest Awards

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MARCH 31, 2020―During the fall 2019 semester, the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication launched its third annual audio essay contest, "Speak Up," and University of Delaware students joined the campus-wide conversation with personal and emotional audio essays. Students submitted 2- to 4-minute recorded essays, considering these questions: What does democracy mean to you? Where do you think democracy is headed? How do you fit in? How do you see your role as a citizen in our democracy? The project ran in tandem with the CPC's National Agenda speaker series, "Direction Democracy," which featured nationally known speakers who discussed where we have been, where we are going, and the current state of democracy in the United States.

The Speak Up! program is presented in collaboration with the University Writing Center, the University of Delaware Library, Museums and PressDelaware Public Media (WDDE 91.1, WMPH 91.7 and WMHS 88.1), the College of Arts & Sciences Journalism Program, the University of Delaware Department of CommunicationWVUD Radio (91.3), and the University of Delaware Provost.

Announcing the Awards

​The CPC announces the awards to the top ten finalists for the Speak Up! audio essay contest. Judging was based on content; originality and creativity; delivery; and production value. The winners received cash awards of $500 to $50 (first place, second place, third place and three honorable mentions). To learn more about the contest, visit

First Place―$500

Democracy for Minorities―For Rachel Sawicki, a University of Delaware senior majoring in communication, everyone deserves life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When compared with the authoritarian policies of other countries, the values of an American democracy are worth defending.

Second Place―$250

2008―Julia Mack, a University of Delaware senior majoring in media communication, recalls the formative experience of a 5th grade mock election.

Third Place―$100

Dinner Plate Democracy―Should citizens settle for meatloaf and asparagus or demand a new menu? It depends on if they vote, says Tara Lennon, a University of Delaware sophomore pursuing a degree in communication.

Honorable Mentions―$50 each

If I Could―Marin Imhoff wonders about her role as a citizen as election day approaches. The University of Delaware junior, who studies communication, often feels powerless. She considers what she could say to others who feel the same way.

Ripple Effect―Democracy begins with small interactions, says Emma Scholes, a University of Delaware senior pursuing a degree in communication. She recalls lessons learned from a conflict with a boy when she was 13 years old.

Online Shopping Turns Evil―Is mass media technology hurting our democracy? Chloe Tullman, a University of Delaware senior pursuing a degree in English, says it depends on how we use it.

Finalist Commendations―$25 gift cards

Masked Oligarchy―Kristine Castoria, a University of Delaware senior pursuing a degree in English, questions the integrity of policy makers in an era when politicians are controlled by money and influence from all sides.

Democracy Matters―Madeline Ehrlich, a University of Delaware freshman majoring in psychology, says citizens must make their collective voice count to defend the rights of those who need a voice.

Surfing Perspective―Holly Hutton, a University of Delaware senior pursuing a degree in communication, intends to use her voice and stand with others who share her passion to fight climate change and rising ocean temperatures.

Divided US―Is the United States a house or a home? Chloe La Motta, a University of Delaware senior majoring in communication, considers how we all can live together, under one roof. 

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Speak Up! Audio Essay Contest Awards
  • Department of Communication
  • Department of Political Science and International Relations