Winner, Crow Writing Contest 2022
By Ananya Singhvi, University of Arizona

I adore literature in all forms. This art has no boundaries, but there’s one form that I love the most out of all public speaking. Public speaking has shaped the leader and person I am today. Public speaking brings out the best version of me- the confident and unbeatable Ananya.

I adore literature in all forms. This art has no boundaries, but there’s one form that I love the most out of all public speaking. Public speaking has shaped the leader and person I am today. Public speaking brings out the best version of me- the confident and unbeatable Ananya.

It was the end of July; Thar desert’s sun was at its peak. But nobody cared about the scorching heat because everyone was excited about the elections that were going to happen in the school to choose the student union’s president. Every candidate was given 10 days to canvass around campus followed by two major Hindi and English speech delivering events on the first two days. I don’t know what made me file my name for candidacy but there I was, ready to make my first appearance as a contestant for presidentship. Maybe it was the political blood in me that influenced my decision. I was a daughter of a politician.

On our first canvassing day, finally, after we were done with our daily assembly schedule. A teacher came forward and announced in a high-pitched voice that It’s time for the Speeches by the potential election candidates and asked everybody to sit down on the ground and maintain silence as we take our turns one by one. The event started; I was the first one to be called upon the stage. As soon as the comparer said, “Let’s hear it from Ananya Singhvi—recognized by her election symbol Thunder.” Goosebumps flooded my skin, my hands got cold and my heartbeats were louder than the sound of thunder. It was time to make a speech.

I closed my fist, pulled myself together, and walked towards the mic confidently. As soon as I reached the podium, few people who knew me including my friends, teachers, and the canvassing team started cheering me up by shouting my election symbol’s name. I waited for a while to let their voices die, took a deep breath, and started speaking. “Good morning my dear friends, teachers, and staff members.”- It came out loud and clear. I could feel the strength in my voice. Right there, I realized that I was made for it.

I took a big roll of paper out of my pocket and I set it loose. Everybody looked at me with surprise as I started pretending that I was going to read from it. I waited for a few seconds to build the suspense and then I turned the paper towards the audience and showed it to them and laughed- it was empty. I said, “Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with a long speech. I have a blank paper in my hand and it’s blank for a reason. So, that you and I can fill it together. As a president, I will represent you and your wants.”

I continued speaking confidently. I was catching everyone’s attention. The eyes of the crowd were fuelling my fire to get the throne. It was turning into a conversation rather than a speech. I could see the joy and hope on the face of each one present there. I could see they liked me and that I had made my mark. No doubt, public speaking is an art and I knew I was mastering it in those 6 minutes. My body, my face, my eyes, my voice- I was using everything I had to communicate with my audience.

I kept my speech short discussing how I can make school reach new heights and most importantly how I can make the year, the best and most fun year of everyone’s life. I talked a little bit about myself, my interests, and my leadership qualities. I ended my speech on a positive note by thanking everyone for being a wonderful audience and giving out three cheers for thunder. In the end, I waved goodbye and started walking backstage. As I was walking, I could hear people cheering for me, but this time it wasn’t just the people who knew me but a whole lot more than that. It was an entire school.

Drawing of person with words "Love you" visible at right

Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I did better than what I expected of myself. I was proud of myself. As I reached backstage, the other contestants congratulated me. Their faces were pale. I could feel the tension in the room. Everyone delivered their speech one by one. I was so consumed in my overwhelming moment that I honestly didn’t pay attention to anyone else’s speech. The experience took over my thoughts. All I could think about was going home and flaunt my success to my family. I told myself, “No doubt, the blood has shown its color.” I’ve seen people giving speeches all my life. Though coming from a political background, I was always aware of the influence public speakers can have; I was made aware of the power of public speaking when I delivered my first speech as a candidate for the post of president.

I wasn’t just a candidate. I was a newcomer. Having been just a year in the school, my challenge was bigger than for the other candidates who had been there since kindergarten. One of the candidates was everyone’s favorite. He was the cool guy for everyone and I was just a stranger. He knew everything about the school and I didn’t even know the school’s map completely. But as Ralph Waldo Emersion said, “Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” Through my powerful tool of public speaking, I turned the tables and persuaded everyone in my favor. The game was changed. The canvassing went on for 9 more days. I kept on gaining everyone’s trust through speeches, short conversations, and class presentations. When the final day arrived there was nobody who didn’t know my name or my election symbol.

Students in school uniforms cheering
Students in school uniforms cheering

By the end of the election day, when the votes were being counted, I wasn’t confident about winning given the popularity of other contestants. But I was happy and content because I made a mark. I built myself from scratch to the point where for better or worse I was the most talked-about girl of the school. I was satisfied with my performance and hard work and was prepared for the results.

On the afternoon of August 2, 2020; It was time for the school to be out and everybody was desperately waiting in the assembly ground to know whom their president was going to be. I was seated in a library with other contestants. We all could sense the excitement outside the library and the nervousness inside the library. Finally, the results were declared. It was me.

I didn’t just win the elections. I also became the first girl president in the school’s history. I swept the floor with a huge margin. Several factors helped me win including the core team that helped me in canvassing. But if I were to give credits to one thing specifically, I’d choose my public speaking skills. Public speaking just didn’t help me impact and influence others but also leave my mark on the school’s history. I know, my victory was remarkable and the sound of thunder will echo in my school’s campus for decades.

Students in school uniforms cheering