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Voices Matter Audio Essay Contest

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Read about the Voices Matter 2018 contest winners.

MARCH 18, 2019―Last fall, the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication launched its second annual audio essay contest, "Voices Matter," and dozens of University of Delaware students joined the campus-wide conversation with personal and emotional audio essays. Students submitted 2- to 4-minute recorded essays about the First Amendment, considering these questions: Do you feel free to express your opinion?  Have you been affected by hate speech? Have you ever experienced or witnessed censorship? What does the First Amendment mean to you?  How have you made your voice matter? The project ran in tandem with the CPC's National Agenda speaker series, "Midterm Matters," which explored the importance of voter and civic engagement in midterm elections, campaign strategy, news coverage, and polling.

University of Delaware Provost Robin Morgan announced the winners at a public event at Mitchell Hall, which featured guest speaker Christian Picciolini, an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, peace advocate, and a former violent extremist. The Department of Communication hosted the event to kick off its two-day Speech Limits in Public Life conference on March 14 to 15.

The Winners

The CPC presents the winners and finalists of the Voices Matter audio essay contest. Judging was based on content; originality and creativity; delivery; and production value. First-place, second-place, third-place, and three honorable-mention recipients received cash awards of $500 to $50. Delaware Public Media broadcast the top the top three essays on March 15 to 17.

The Line (FIRST PLACE)―Mia Carbone, a sophomore majoring in political science and communication, recalls a class discussion about the contentious Kavanaugh hearings and the trepidation of a lone boy. She considers how ultimately voices can indeed be drowned out.

Shut Up and Listen (SECOND PLACE)―Eric Hastings completes his MPA degree in spring 2019. He examines the lessons learned when people "shut up and listen," why it is important to do so, and why it is dangerous not to listen. 

The Word (THIRD PLACE)―Jymere Stillis-Stanford, a junior majoring in mass communication and psychology, remembers a high school experience when he uses his voice to combat ignorance among his non-Black peers.

Politics at the Hostess Station (HONORABLE MENTION)―Christine Colalillo, a junior majoring in political science, recounts an angry confrontation with a customer at work, and the valuable lesson she learns about when and where opinions can be expressed. 

The Monster On My Shoulder (HONORABLE MENTION)―Morgan Kolukisa, a junior majoring in English, contemplates the "monster on her shoulder," a metaphor for her identities as a queer woman and as someone who experiences seizures. 

How Can I Speak? (HONORABLE MENTION)―Jenna Lee, a senior pursuing a degree in communication, positions herself in a figurative game of tug of war. Should she speak freely or censor herself when she holds a dissenting opinion? 

Freedom of Speech for All? (FINALIST)―Allison Delaney, a senior pursuing a degree in mass communication, considers whether freedom of speech is sometimes upheld at the expense of others. Just as it presents a danger for someone to yell fire in a crowded theater for fear of harm, she ponders, surely the use of hateful language also creates a present danger for those at whom the hate is directed.

She's a Feminist (FINALIST)―Delaney DeTitta, a junior majoring in communication, describes her struggles with the label "feminist," which she says has become warped by others into a synonym for misandry. Delaney implores readers to push back against narratives imposed on them by others. 

Just Like My Father (FINALIST)―Josh Diehl completed his BA degree in media communication in December 2018. A family tradition inspires him to find his own voice, but it wouldn't be possible without the First Amendment.

When Anti-Semitism Hits Home (FINALIST)―Rachel Stamberg, a junior majoring in communication, shares how recent events make her more hesitant to share her Jewish identity. Coming from a bubble where anti-Semitism was unheard of, she must now confront the fact that the world can be a scary place. 

About the Contest

​The CPC produced the program in partnership with the University Writing Center, the University of Delaware LibraryDelaware Public Media (WDDE 91.1, WMPH 91.7 and WMHS 88.1), the College of Arts & Sciences Journalism ProgramWVUD Radio (91.3), the University of Delaware Vice Provost for Diversity and the University of Delaware Department of Communication. The CPC debuted the Voices project in 2017 as part of its mission to promote civic engagement. Through nonpartisan, interdisciplinary outreach, the CPC equips students and the community with the political, social, and communication literacy needed to engage in civil discourse. Please email if you have questions or call 302-831-7771.

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Voices Matter Audio Essay Contest
  • Department of Communication
  • Department of Political Science and International Relations