Each participant steps to the lectern to deliver an 8- to 10-minute speech on their chosen topic relating to the Christian peace position, in a universal or specific context, including war and violence, political policies, agencies of justice and peace, peacemaking strategies or current events. The addresses are judged on originality, the integration of topic and a peace position and general standards of delivery.
Participants compete for cash prizes and the top winner may enter the U.S./Canada Mennonite Central Committee-sponsored C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest. The trust of C. Henry Smith, a 20th-century Mennonite historian and professor at Goshen College and Bluffton (Ohio) College, funds the contest, which gives students an opportunity to become involved with the peace cause while cultivating rhetorical skills. Speech contests have been part of Goshen College’s history since the early 1900s; the C. Henry Smith contest allows the campus and the wider Goshen communities to hear about faith-related, socially relevant, contemporary issues.
Past Goshen College Winners
Jakyra Green won first prize and $300 at the 2023 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest. She is an English and education major from Elkhart.
Green spoke about her personal experiences with racism and shared information regarding systemic racism across America including police violence, longer prison sentences, and higher infant mortality rate among black Americans. She stated, “Peace is complex, peace is hard, but an endurable peace created from the lands of social justice will always matter.”
Caleb Shenk, a junior accounting major from Goshen, won second place with his speech titled “Protesting Taxation as a Peace-Seeking Accountant.”
He spoke about the percentage of taxes that go to military spending and his personal conflict with becoming an accountant and a pacifist. The United States offers exemptions for religious beliefs for actively serving in the military, but that right ends at physical participation. “I have no choice in paying taxes that fund the killing.”
Greta Lapp Klassen, an English major from Goshen, won first prize and $300 in the 2022 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest. Her speech was titled “Humanizing Our World, One Walkway at a Time.”
Her experiences biking across the country with the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions and walking in Elkhart awaiting her car to be fixed made her cognizant of how society prioritizes vehicles over people. “If you aren’t driving a car in 2022, you are not a fully participatory member of our capitalist economy,” she said.
Brian Hernandez Rodriguez, a computer science and sustainability studies major, also from Goshen, won second place and received a $150 prize with his speech titled “La Jaula de Oro (The Golden Cage): The Tale of the Young Migrant Factory Worker.”
He spoke about his personal experience working in a factory alongside migrant workers. He was able to appreciate the sacrifice that his parents made and other immigrants trying to create a better life for themselves and their families. “This is the reality for immigrants, part of the 546,000 people in the manufacturing industry in Indiana as of 2021,” he said.
On Feb. 16, her speech titled “Living the American Dream on Borrowed Time,” described her experience as a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) grantee. She states “Advocacy creates the ability to demand change, on behalf of individuals who’ve been silenced by an issue.” She revealed part of her story in hopes others would understand the difference advocacy makes in countless lives.
Mackenzie Miller’s speech “Making Peace with Death: Transforming a Language of Violence and Inequality in America,” took second place. She spoke about our cultural understanding and fear of death. She draws from her experience in Varanasi, India, where Hindu pilgrims celebrate death, and connected death to the ways it has affected our communities and world in the past year causing civil unrest and a result of COVID-19. Miller is a senior from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, majoring in Journalism and English with a minor in International Studies.
Ronit Goswami, a sophomore Exercise Science major from Goshen, won the 2020 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest and $500 in prize money on Feb. 18 with his speech titled “Finding Peace in the Trenches: The War on Homelessness.” Goswami spoke about homelessness around the world and here in Goshen, explaining common causes of homelessness, global statistics and his personal experiences.
Taking second place was Nasim Rasoulipour, a senior interdisciplinary studies major from Tehran, Iran, with her speech titled “Two Paths Converged in 2016: My Life With Donald Trump.” Rasoulipour spoke about her experience as an Iranian student living in the United States since the 2016 election.
Emily Stoltzfus, a senior social work major from Goshen, won the 2019 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest and $500 in prize money on Feb. 12 with her speech titled “Getting the Words Right: Rethinking our Measures of Education.”
Stoltzfus spoke about how schools measure the success of their students, and that the ways they do this don’t always take all factors into account and can lead to negative outcomes for the students.
Taking second place was Mandira Panta, a senior sustainability studies major from Bhaktapur, Nepal, with her speech titled, “Why Climate Change?”
Panta’s speech focused on how it can be difficult for people to care about climate change when they don’t feel like they directly experience its effects.
Achieng Agutu, a senior public relations major and spanish minor from Kisumu, Kenya, won the 2018 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest and $500 in prize money on Feb. 13 with her speech “The Introduction: A Story of Inner Peace.” Agutu’s speech focused on stereotypes and she shared a childhood story to explain how her father educated her about the stereotypes that she would face from the world.
Taking second place was Mandira Panta, a junior sustainability studies major from Bhaktapur, Nepal. She used elements of humor in her speech titled, “Shades of Injustice.” Panta’s speech focused on colorism and how every country in the world is obsessed with having fair skin.
Yazan Meqbil, a sophomore molecular biology/biochemistry major from Hebron, Palestine, won the top prize of $500 at the annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest with his speech titled, “Beyond Occupation of Mind and Body.” His speech will also be entered in Mennonite Central Committee’s bi-national intercollegiate oratorical contest.
Mimi Salvador, a senior peace, justice and conflict studies major from Ecuador, was runner-up with her speech titled, “Indigenous Motherhood in Defense of Life.” Salvador was also the first-place winner in the 2016 contest.
With her speech titled “Privatizing Agony, Protecting Sacred Waters,” junior Noemi “Mimi” Salvador spoke passionately about the privatization of water resources and its effect on indigenous communities. Salvador, who is a peace, justice and conflict studies major from Kitu Cara, Ecuador, won the top prize of $500, which also qualifies her for entry into the bi-national intercollegiate oratorical contest.
Christina Hofer, a senior theater major from Dolton, South Dakota, earned second place for her speech called “Discrediting the Single Story of Islam.” Informed by her experience with a Muslim host family while on SST in Senegal, Hofer encouraged the audience to look beyond stereotypes to see a diverse community of Muslims that includes a commitment to peace, faith and hospitality.
With the topic of “Through the Eyes of the People,” sophomore Dona Park, who is majoring in both art and interdisciplinary studies, won the top prize of $500 and landed a chance to enter the bi-national intercollegiate oratorical contest.
Morgan Yordy, a first-year history and peace, justice and conflict studies major, received second place and spoke on “Saving the Future: One Girl at a Time.” Yordy addressed the importance of equal opportunity for and recognition of girls’ education.
Speaking on “The welcome table: Discussing Goshen College’s hiring policy,” Abby Deaton won the top prize of $500 and a chance to enter her speech in the bi-national intercollegiate oratorical contest.
Martin Hofkamp was runner-up, speaking on “Juveniles in Adult Prisons.” Drawing on his own experiences working with incarcerated youth in Elkhart County, Hofkamp informed the audience of young people who are being tried as adults and their struggles to reach their full potential.
Speaking on “Laos’ history of war: The need for UXO removal,” Goshen College sophomore Jacob Putnam, from Chicago, Ill., placed first in Goshen College’s 2013 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest on Feb. 19, 2013.
Runner-up Abby Deaton, a sophomore communication and psychology major from Indianapolis, spoke on “Making peace with warriors.” Deaton informed the audience of the rising need for healthcare for returning soldiers and veterans.
Lauren Treiber, a sophomore, peace, justice and conflict studies major (Grand Rapids, Mich.) won first place with her speech titled “The Real Occupy Movement: Understanding Capitalism in a Christian Context.”
Alison Reist, junior sociology major (North Liberty, Ind.) won second place with her speech titled “Peace through Sport: The Olympic Vision.”
Jair Hernandez, sophomore public relations major from Goshen won first place with his speech titled “Migrant Farm Workers.” In his speech, Hernandez called for awareness and action for migrant farm worker justice.
Sae Jin Lee, a fifth-year senior Bible and religion and art double major from Elkhart, Ind. won second place. Her speech was titled “Rethinking SST: Beyond a Three-Months Long Requirement to a Life-Long Commitment to Intercultural Intentionality.”
Sophomore David Zwier, a business major from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, won first place with his speech titled “Facing Food Waste: The Truth About What We Don’t Eat.”
Sophomore Kayla Hooley, undecided major from Peoria, Arizona, won second place for her speech titled “Media Influence on Body Image: How the Media Shapes Our Minds and Divides our Society.”
Senior elementary education major Analisa Gerig-Sickles (West Branch, Iowa) won first place with her speech “No Mas Redadas.” In her speech, Gerig-Sickles addressed the impact of work raids on undocumented immigrants.
Isaac Yoder-Schrock, a first-year physics major (Moundridge, Kan.) won second place for his speech, “National Healthcare, Caring for Others.”
Senior art major Nicole Boyd (Goshen, Ind.) won first place for her speech, “The loss of a childhood: A call to action on pursuing the end of child labor.”
Jacob Kraybill, (Lancaster, Pa.) a first-year communication major, won second place for his speech, “Unpacking the issues: Gay marriage in America.”
List of Prior First Place Winners
* C. Henry Smith bi-national contest winner
2023 — Jakyra Green
2022 — Greta Lapp Klassen
2021 — Denisse Aguilar
2020 — Ronit Goswami *
2019 — Emily Stoltzfus
2018 — Achieng Agutu
2017 — Yazan Meqbil
2016 — Noemi “Mimi” Salvador
2015 — Dona Park
2014 — Abby Deaton *
2013 — Jacob Putnam
2012 — Lauren Treiber
2011 — Jair Hernandez
2010 — David Zwier
2009 — Analisa Gerig-Sickles
2008 — Nicole Boyd
2007 — Nita Mishra
2006 — Rebecca Fast *
2005 — Elizabeth M. Miller
2004 — Hanna Hussein Yesuf
2003 — Tim Nafziger
2002 — Rachel Koontz
2001 — Maegan Gasa
2000 — Deborah Scott
1999 — Amy Chupp
1998 — Liz Lewis *
1997 — Ephrem Micaiah *
1996 — Kathy Glick (Miller) *
1995 — Rachel Lewis