Student competes in national forensics tournament

April 8, 2016
Shannon Konkol

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Shannon Konkol, a freshman English education and psychology major at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville from Hatley, Wisconsin, qualified for and competed in the 2016 American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament April 2-4 at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Students from approximately 60-80 universities and colleges throughout the United States competed in the tournament.

Konkol is a member of the UW-Platteville Pioneer Forensics and Debate Team at UW-Platteville, led and coached by Martin Chislom, speech lecturer at UW-Platteville. Konkol is the first student from UW-Platteville to qualify for this national tournament since 2008.

At the national tournament, students competed in the following categories: poetry, prose, duo acting, after-dinner speaking, communication analysis, persuasive and informative speaking, as well as impromptu and extemporaneous speaking.

Konkol competed in the poetry category. In this category, students asked a question about a certain topic and then read poetry that reflected on the question. During her competitive performance, Konkol asked a question about rape, “Why hasn’t America solved the problem yet?” and read the following poems that reflected on that question: “Rape Joke,” by Belissa Escobedo and Rhiannon McGavin; “Rape Poem to End All Rape Poems,” by Lindsey Michelle Williams; “How Rape Has Become a Staple of American Culture,” by Desiree Dallagiacomo; “Son,” by Ruby Francisco; and “People You May Know,” by Kevin Cantor.

Konkol prepared for the competition as part of an assignment for Directed Study in Forensics, an upper level course taught by Chislom. In the course, students were able to choose a category for the work they wanted to complete, such as poetry, prose, etc., then Chislom helped them develop their pieces for a variety of weekend forensic tournaments throughout the area and for the national tournament in Gainesville. The students practiced their pieces for the tournaments on Saturday or Sunday mornings.

“Being able to qualify and compete in this tournament was incredible,” said Konkol. “Not only has it made me so much more confident in myself as a public speaker and as a member of the forensics team, but it also has made me more ready for next year. I got so many good ideas from watching the other amazing and experienced competitors and I can’t wait to use what I learned in next year’s pieces.” 

“The most challenging part about doing the category of poetry is making sure everything is perfect, from making sure the poems are memorized to making sure your movements and voice changes are spot on,” said Konkol. “But with that, the most rewarding part is when you nail it and know that you did a great job after having practiced for so long.” 

“I am very proud of Shannon because of the extra time and hard work she has devoted to the forensics program,” said Chislom. “We are hoping that with her participation in a national forensics tournament, more students will consider forensics as a co-curricular activity.”

Emily Loux, a junior biology major and president of the Pioneer Forensics and Debate Team from Rochester, Minnesota; and Jenna Krueger, a freshman biology major from Monroe, Wisconsin, accompanied Konkol to the tournament.

This year, Konkol also competed in the Wisconsin State Forensics Tournament at UW-Whitewater in Whitewater, Wisconsin, where she received a fifth-place trophy, and in a forensics tournament at Northeast Iowa University in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

As UW-Platteville pursues its vision of being recognized as the leading student-focused university for its success in achieving excellence, creating opportunities, and empowering each individual, it is guided by four strategic planning priorities. The forensic competition aligns with the priorities of providing an outstanding education and fostering a community of achievement and respect.

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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