A Little Hard Work Goes a Long Way

El Vaquero Staff Writer

“In the fall of 1873, we young women, united together with the concern of the destructive power of alcohol, met in churches to pray and then marched to the saloons to ask the owners to close their establishments.”

Quite the attention-getter, isn’t it? This is the first line to a first prize-winning speech given by GCC student Jessica Andrew.

Described by her debate teacher, Chair of the Language Arts Division Jean Perry, as a “natural debater,” Jessica Andrew won first place with her speech about the dangers of alcohol in society. The organization, which she wrote the speech for, is The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which believes that youth should be aware of problems involving alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

Andrew first focused on past alcohol concerns and then discussed current problems by giving examples of society’s obsession with alcohol. According to Perry, Andrew found out about the speech when she stopped by her office.

“I mentioned how Hollywood and television glamorize alcohol and how our society is obsessed with it,” said Andrew. The competition was state-level and took place at the Vallejo Drive SDA Church in Glendale. Each contestant had to write an eight to 10 minute speech and deliver it at the organization’s meeting on May 8.

The presentation was a difficult task, but lucky for Andrew, her co-coaches Jean Perry and Ira Heffler helped her throughout the contest. “My co-coaches, Jean Perry, Ira Heffler and I came up with the idea of dramatizing the speech and having me portray Carrie Nation, the ax-wielding temperance crusader,” said Andrew.

Nation was a crusader against alcohol and gambling, and was known to carry a Bible in one hand and a hatchet in the other.

Andrew competed against two other students from California community colleges, including Fullerton City College. There were approximately 30 to 40 people in the audience. The contestants were judged on the subject matter, composition and how they delivered their speeches.

“The prize I received for first place was $400,” said Andrew. The win provides her with the opportunity to move on to the national level.
She will be flown to West Virginia in August where she will compete at WCTU’s annual convention against all other state finalists; she might end up winning $500. “Jessica was a strong speaker,” said Perry, remembering her student from last year. “She plans to use her skills in speaking to help people.”

Aside from being a competitive debater, Andrew is in her last semester at GCC and will be graduating with her Associate of Arts degree and Communications Certificate, while waiting to hear from USC. She was accepted to Gordon College in the Boston area and a college in Denver, Colo., both private Christian colleges.

Andrew is proud of her achievement in winning first place and is anticipating her next chance to represent GCC.

“It was an honor to represent GCC at the state level,” said Andrew, “and now I have the chance to represent GCC and California at the national level; this is very exciting for me.”