The annual Jody Deering Nyquist Speech Contest is named after the former UW professor and administrator. By showcasing some of the best speech and argumentation at UW, the contest honors Dr. Nyquist’s commitment to education and civic engagement.

Annually, students submit speeches that can win money. The contest is open to all currently enrolled UW students.


2023 Theme: Who is a great public speaker? 

Welcome to this year’s speech contest! We challenge you to explore the art of public speaking by reflecting on a great speaker who has inspired you. Your chosen speaker can be a well-known figure from history or someone who may not be widely recognized, but whose oratory skills have left a lasting impact on you.

Your speech should provide reasons explaining why this speaker is exceptional. Do they capture their audience’s attention in an interesting way? Do they use rhetorical techniques in a particularly effective way? Or perhaps their talks have made a significant impact on society or their community?

We invite you to deliver a thought-provoking speech that showcases your own skills as a public speaker, while paying tribute to the greatness of your chosen orator. Use examples and support to develop your argument for your speaker. The floor is open for you to make a compelling case for why your speaker deserves recognition as one of the greats.

We look forward to hearing your insights and witnessing the power of your words as you share your thoughts on a great speaker.


The contest is open to all currently enrolled undergraduate & graduate UW students.

Submission guidelines

  • Content. The speech should address the 2023 theme: Who is a great public speaker? See the past winners below for a sense of the type of speeches that have done well.
  • Format. All submissions need to be recorded and the online video link submitted below.
  • Time limits. Speeches should run between 5 and 10 minutes. Speeches over 10 minutes will not be considered.
  • Deadline. Submissions are due by 11:59 pm on May 15, 2023. Please use the form below to submit your speech.


  1. After the May 15th deadline, speeches will go through preliminary judging rounds, guided by the Center director. Those not advancing will be notified via email.
  2. The top six speeches will then be judged by an assembled panel of speech experts.
  3. The winners will be notified of their placing by June.


1st place: $150
2nd place: $125
3rd place: $100
4th-6th place: $50


Please fill out the information and link to your speech. If you are posting your speech to YouTube or another video service, please make sure that the video is not listed as private (otherwise, we can’t see it). Fields marked * are required.

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In 2022, the contest was open to all UW undergraduates. Students submitted speeches in response to the theme: What lessons should UW learn from the COVID pandemic? The theme allows for a wide range of ideas about how the UW community should plan for a post-pandemic era.

1st place. Kaitlyn Laibe


2nd place. Jamie Christiansen

3rd place (tie). Jaelyn Sotelo

3rd place (tie). Liana Wu

Judging panel
Judy Kimball, Vice President of Marketing at GLG

Evan Seguirant, Senior recruiting manager, Twitter


1st Olivia Knoll. Olivia performed a ceremonial speech praising the efforts of the Purple Period of Crying campaign to prevent infant head trauma.


1st Evan Whitmeyer. Evan provided an illuminating ceremonial speech on Benjamin Franklin.

2nd Angelina Kuan. Angelina argued persuasively about the need for policy action in securing abortion access in developing countries.

Hannah Zaini. Hannah argued in support of the Trevor Project and their efforts to ban sexual conversion therapy.

Helena Burk. Argued for policy action against the tampon tax by supporting efforts of Period Equity.

Brielle Bush. Brielle argued for increased

Judging panel
Clara Manahan, Communications Director and Policy Advisor to Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles at King County Council

Stephanie Gero Dahlstrom, an Associate Attorney at Montgomery Purdue PLLC.


Suspended due to COVID-19


1st place. Noah Whitman. Ceremonial speech for my father.


2nd place. Kristine Nichols. Advocating for the Center for Reproductive Rights

3rd place. Darren Lee. Honoring the 442nd Infantry Regiment

Drew Locknane. Advocacy for Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

Baylee Harding. Praising Seattle Children’s Hospital

Brianna Cho. Commemorating Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Judging panel
Victoria Broehm, Director of Communications at American Feed Industry Association.

Emma Brown, Manager of Communications and Marketing at Washington State Dental Association.

Elizabeth Woolf, Analyst at Pivot Point Consulting


1st place. Griffin Dugan. Advocating for the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.


2nd place. Diana Catinas. Advocating to ban “life without parole” for juvenile offenders.

3rd place. Satvik Agarwal. Advocating for increased support for the U.N.’s World Food Programme.

Ivan Trindev. Commemorating the work of the Relay for Life.

Samantha Sun. Speech commemorating Elon Musk.

Pharady Chea. Speech commemorating her father

Judging panel
Mikayla Hall, Internal Content Manager and Copy Editor at House Republican Conference.

Danish Dhamani, Co-founder of the public speaking app, Orai.

Maddy Epstein, Senior Account Executive at WE Communications.


1st place. Yaling Vu. Ceremonial speech praising Memorial Day.

1st place. Elizabeth Woolf. Advocacy speech urging support for ROOTS Young Adult Shelter.

2nd place. Lindsey Bullock. Impromptu speech arguing against quarterly advising meetings.

Matthew Lincoln. Advocacy speech urging support for 350.org to fight climate

Louis Tigh. Impromptu speech arguing for mandatory 10-minute lecture breaks.

Li-Kai Wu. Ceremonial speech praising Steven Spielberg.

Judging panel
Sandy Malone. PEMCO; Toastmasters Governor District 2.

Ashley Walls. Microsoft.

Bryce Ellis. Democracy Now!