Sonja Stetzler, an adjunct professor in the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, has always wanted to connect her classroom assignments to the service of others. This spring, she challenged each student in her public speaking class to persuade the class to give to a good cause – and then to raise money in a contest for the best speech.
Each student chose a cause that was personal and the list of organizations and their causes varied widely as did the perspectives of the students who presented them. Each student raised a little money and, after a class vote, the total donation went to the charity of the best speech. Stetzler upped the ante by matching the class donation herself.
About the assignment, Stetzler says, “The intent of using this format was to get the students involved on an emotional as well as academic level. The students also had to think through how to persuade members of an audience who may have had a different agenda.”
In the end, the students voted to support the American Red Cross, represented by Dillon Draper. The Greater Carolinas Chapter of the American Red Cross now features Draper’s speech on their website in tribute to the students, their efforts, and the donation that they made.
The Queens University of Charlotte motto is “not to be served, but to serve.” Everyday, professors can advance that motto inside the classroom as well as beyond it.