Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Speaking Award Winner, Allen Li
Thank you to Allen Li for providing this blog post, and congratulations on a well-deserved win.
When I heard I was a finalist out of 1,700 competitors and 70-80 semifinalists for the Philip Lutzenkirchen Public Speaking competition, I honestly did not know whether to scream in excitement or pass out in fear. I had done public speaking in the past, but nothing to this magnitude and size. I think my friends can attest that I was nervous from the minute I found out until the second right before I walked on stage. I don’t think I have ever said the words ‘I’m scared I’ll flop on stage’ more in my entire life. But for some reason, as soon as you say the first words of your speech, the nerves disappear and you just speak.
To this very moment, I am still beyond words to describe the immense gratitude and happiness I felt when receiving the Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award. I spoke on an issue I thought was so important for the Auburn community to know and hear about. Individuals like my parents have faced accent discrimination and been ignored for far too long, so to be given the platform to tell their stories was an honor in and of itself. Even after the event, two Chinese international students that I had not previously met thanked me for giving the speech, and I left feeling proud that my message had really resonated with the audience.
Receiving this award would not have been possible without the help and encouragement of my professor, Mrs. Melissa Voynich. Thank you so much for listening to my speech more times than I can count and calming the nerves before getting on stage. I’d also like to thank Professor Jennifer Johnson for hosting such an amazing event, and the workers at the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center for making it easy to navigate such a massive space. Thank you to all of my friends who came to cheer me on, and my parents who inspire me to continue storytelling and speaking.
Lastly and most importantly, thank you to Mr. Lutzenkirchen for sharing Philip’s story and spreading such an important message. Mr. Lutzenkirchen’s story was not only moving but also so relevant to students like me. I thank him for sharing such a painful time and using this platform to remind students to make smart decisions in regard to their well-being. Phillip’s influence will help so many students around the country, and I am truly grateful for Mr. Lutzenkirchen and the Lutzie 43 Foundation for giving me an unforgettable experience.