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PUC Student Orator Goes to WCTU International Convention

Lainey S. Cronk, July 11, 2007
“The purpose of my speech is to inform you of the secret ingredient in beer. A secret ingredient not found in the recipe or labels; what is that secret ingredient?” Pacific Union College student Andre Sanchez leans into the words as he clearly articulates for the gathered audience and judges the down sides of drinking. “That secret ingredient is…. stupidity.”

Despite his charismatic presentation, Sanchez is not a professional speaker: He’s a junior communication major at Pacific Union College, and he is participating in the regional round of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union intercollegiate oratorical contest, held at Pacific Union College in May.

Sanchez’s compelling speech won him the regional round of the competition. It also won him a chance to present his speech for the final round in September.

The WCTU was organized in 1874 by women concerned about the problems alcohol caused families and society. The college oratorical contests started taking place in the 1950s. Now, regional contests select winners who eventually may go on to the annual world and national WCTU convention, which this year takes place in Indianapolis.

Sanchez got involved with the program when he took communication professor James Chase’s pursuasive communication class. Every year Chase has his students prepare speeches for this contest. He worked with Sanchez to refine the concept for his speech; then, when preparing for the competition, they worked on the speech every other day for several weeks. Sanchez worked first on memorizing sections of the speech, and then on fine-tuning nuances and gestures.

Sanchez is familiar with being up front; an aspiring actor, he has participated in dramatic productions. As a child, he also gained experience in memorizing (in this case, Bible passages) through the encouragement of his mother, grandmother, and Pathfinders. But this is the first time he’s done this kind of formal public speaking. He feels that the experience is worthwhile in terms of his career path. “It really does help,” he explains, “because I’m learning how to communicate, verbally and nonverbally—and it will look great on a resume.”

But beyond that, it has been a positive experience for Sanchez and comes with a sense of the value of words. “I never thought it would be this cool!” he admits. “To be saying stuff that can affect other peoples lives in a positive way…”