Seton Hall Nursing student Jonathan Thow, Class of 2019, was recently crowned the 2017 Interstate Oratorical Association champion. Thow won the honor through a ten minute persuasive speech, entitled “Four Photos to Save a Life”, which advocates for victims of sex trafficking using an app that registers pictures of different hotel rooms. As a result of his win, the sophomore’s speech will be published in the book Winning Orations of 2017.
Jonathan Thow has competed with speech teams for three years during high school. In his senior year, he was recruited by Seton Hall’s Brownson Speech & Debate team. By attending Seton Hall University, Thow was able to combine his love of speech with his passion for nursing, melding speech tactics with his nursing studies in a way that allows him to be a better advocate. In his winning speech for the Interstate Oratorical Association competition, Thow educated the audience on the sex trafficking, and ways to combat it. Specifically, he discussed using the app TraffickCam, which allows the user to photograph their hotel room to upload to a database that can be used to track victims and traffickers.
Thow credits his speech abilities, along with nursing principles he has learned in his studies, for allowing him to speak with confidence in the face of intimidation or opposing viewpoints, which will help in in the future to better communicate with doctors, patients, and families. He discusses the similarities of both fields, and how the combination is one that benefits his speech skills now, and his future career. On his winning speech, Thow says “I walked to the front of the room as an advocate and, with my voice, tried to protect these people who do not have the ability to do so themselves. That is what nursing is about to me, caring for people when they cannot care for themselves, and that is how I approach competitive speech.”
In his time here, Thow has found a way to meld both nursing and speech, often speaking on topics important to the nursing community, to raise awareness and make a change wherever possible. An example of this is one of Thow’s speech topics for this year on unmanaged nurse to patient ratios, which can prove to have disastrous consequences. As Thow said, “The speech team acted as an academic platform for guided research to develop a persuasive speech which combated this issue on a personal level.” The speech grew into a campaign where signed letters were mailed to representatives encouraging them to support laws for legally mandated ratios. “Although it may have been minute, I made real change happen with that speech.”
Seton Hall's Brownson troupe has produced the top two students representing the state of New Jersey. Due to funding from the Provost, this year the group was able to attend. In addition to Jonathan Thow’s first place win, Jocelyn Rogalo, a Broadcasting and Visual Media major, also a sophomore, earned recognition during the competition as well. She will also have her speech, “Drilling Down Danger” published in Winning Orations of 2017.
Established in 1874, the Interstate Oratorical Association (IOA) represents the nation's oldest competitive collegiate speaking association. Each year the top two persuasive speakers from each state earn the right to attend this prestigious, historical competition. This year the event was held at University of Louisiana, Lafayette from April 21-23, 2017.