This year’s HIP Talks final round at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics brought a large turnout of people in support of the speakers. The event was sponsored by the Hinckley Institute along with Associated Students of the University of Utah. Students each prepared a two-minute speech about something they were passionate about. Thirty students were selected to participate in the finale after giving the speech in a previous qualifying round.
Fifteen students spoke during the final round. There was a break for the judges to deliberate, followed by 15 more students’ speeches. The judges then took some time to deliberate before selecting the winners. During this time, audience members were able to vote on their favorite of the 30 speeches.
The grand prize winner receives $5,000 and each runner-up and the audience favorite receives $1,000.
Kyle Tucker, who organized the event, said about the purpose of HIP Talks, “Obviously the prize money that is provided by the Wayne Owens Family is a great incentive for the students, but it’s really just about giving them an opportunity to foster their public speaking skills and to practice in a forum where they’re supported.”
This year’s runner-ups in no particular order were Avery Druton with her speech titled “The Global Pandemic,” Miranda Stewart with “The Shame Game,” Bryce Wilson with “Tricky Question” and Zac Ray with “What Will Boys Be?”
While waiting for the judges to choose the winners, Ray was calm because he “did the thing [he] came to do.” He mentioned that as long as he feels he did his best, then he doesn’t worry about the outcome.
Stewart spoke about conversion therapy and said, “I actually chose my topic because I have a very good friend that went through conversion therapy and he is one of the faces of Equality Utah. They were behind the H.B. 399 bill which unfortunately got absolutely massacred and pulled and it didn’t pass and that would have abolished conversion therapy in the state of Utah. In order to be relevant and talk about something that impacts people that I love, I thought that if anything deserved to be talked about to a large group of people it would be that.”
The audience favorite was Isha Shadale with her speech titled “Islamaphobia.” She was shocked that she won audience favorite and discussed why she chose her topic by saying, “I chose my topic because I felt like it was really relevant to right now and there’s a lot of stuff going on in the news about terrorism and comparing terrorism to Islam so I felt really passionate about that topic.”
This year’s grand prize winner was Rachel Carlson with her, as one of the judges called it, the “mic-drop speech that brought the judges to tears.” Carlson spoke about mental health and her own struggle with it. In regards to winning the grand prize, she said, “I feel really excited and really overwhelmed. I’m really happy, more than anything, at the feedback I’ve gotten from people that they have also struggled with what I spoke about and didn’t feel so alone afterward. That made me feel really good.” When asked why she chose her topic Carlson said, “I suppose I chose [the topic] because I saw that there was a need on campus and based on my experience, I just wanted to write about it.”
When her name was announced as the grand prize winner, Carlson was overcome with emotion and received a standing ovation from the audience in support of her speech and the judge’s choice.