Oratory battles oppression in recent contest

  Last Tuesday, April 19, first year Mohamed Metwally spoke about his desire to speak out and leave his mark on the world in his winning speech at Sigma Phi’s first annual Richard Hovey Davis Memorial Oratorical Contest. The contest featured five student contestants speaking on the topic: “What is the definition of personal success in today’s world?” The contestants were introduced by Sigma Phi’s general secretary Scott McCrae. McCrae spoke about the importance of the ability to speak well publicly in today’s society before giving a brief biography of the contestants, all of whom were first- or second-year UVM students. Metwally won first place, a prize of $500 and a pewter bowl, with his speech. First year Dan Cmejla received second place and first year Dana Lerner came in third place. The contestants were judged by former Vermont governor Jim Douglas, professor Alfred “Tuna” Snyder and Daniel Post Senning of the Emily Post Center. The speeches ranged from addressing personal anecdotes of success to identifying famous examples of personal success. Cmejla’s speech focused on the uniqueness of the definition of personal success. “Liberties can and should be taken in the definition of success,” Cmejla said in his speech. Third place contestant Lerner concentrated her speech on her personal experience of being told “no.” She cited famous success stories such as Katy Perry, Winston Churchill and J.K. Rowling as tales of people who had been told no but succeeded despite obstacles. Metwally’s winning speech focused on his struggle with oppression growing up as an Egyptian residing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He used personal experiences, as well as cited famous success stories such as Olympian Sir Robert Bannister to define personal success. When asked why he entered the contest, Metwally said that he wanted to leave his mark on the world. “I grew up with no voice, I grew up oppressed and I grew up being told I can’t do,” Metwally said. “And so I didn’t want a lavish lifestyle, I didn’t want wealth, fame. I grew up wanting one thing: I wanted to leave my mark.” Metwally ended his speech instructing the audience on methods toward success. “I stand before you today with this message. Personal success in today’s world is not a goal or a lesson to be achieved, but rather a lifestyle,” Metwally said.