--by Steve McDougle
The NASA White Sands Chapter of the National Management Association (NMA) held its annual American Enterprise Speech Contest on March 18, 2008 in the Good Samaritan Village Auditorium in Las Cruces. About 25 people were in the audience to hear the four contestants.
Diego Salazar, a home-schooled high school freshman, won first place in the contest. In addition to the $300 first place prize, Diego also won the right to represent the chapter at the regional contest in Las Vegas, Nevada in April. Diego and a chaperone will travel at the chapter's expense to the Southwest Area Contest. Diego will be competing for a top prize of $2,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds and the right to represent the Southwest Area in the National Finals in San Diego, California in early November.
Selina Salazar, a home-schooled sophomore, took the second place prize of $200 cash. And, yes, she is Diego's big sister! Ryan Gorman, a home-schooled junior, finished third and won $100. James Clark, a Mayfield High School sophomore, also participated. Both Ryan and James participated in the contest last year. Each contestant received a certificate, and will also receive photographs and a video of the contest.
Diego, accompanied by his mother, was the featured speaker at an April 7th NMA lunch meeting at WSTF. About 20 people attended to watch Diego give his speech, affording Diego another opportunity to practice in front of an audience before the regional contest. The chapter provided barbecue brisket, catered by the Santa Fe Grill. To start the program, a short video from the National Forensic League detailed the benefits students get from participating in public speaking events. The video included testimonials from nationally-known figures such as Jane Pauley (NBC News) and Oprah Winfrey.
Diego had obviously continued to practice his speech in the time since the local contest because he really nailed it at this meeting. Diego did not bring a written copy of his speech, or even note cards! We’d never seen a contestant display so much confidence. Following the meeting, Diego and his mother enjoyed a brief tour of the 200 and 400 Areas at WSTF.
The very next weekend, Diego and his father traveled to Las Vegas, NV where Diego represented WSTF’s NMA Chapter in the regional level of the contest. The contest was held on April 12, 2008 as a part of NMA's Leadership Development Conference. Diego won 3rd Place and received $1,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds. Rita Asuquo, representing the United Space Alliance chapter in Houston, TX, won 2nd place and $1,500 in U.S. Savings Bonds. Kyle Evora, representing the Lockheed-Martin chapter in Fort Worth, TX, won 1st place and $2,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds. Kyle will represent NMA's Southwest Area at the National Finals in November in San Diego, CA.
The NMA thanks our sponsoring organizations, NASA and the NTEC and FOSC Teams, for their support for our chapter. Community service activities such as the American Enterprise Speech Contest would not be possible without them. We also sincerely thank those volunteers who gave of their time to make the contest a success.