One of Juniata’s most recognized traditions, the Bailey Oratorical, happened earlier this semester on Tuesday, February 28. Dating all the way back to 1910, the Bailey was founded by Mrs. Letitia Bailey and her son, Thomas, as a memorial to the late Mr. John Bailey. This tradition revolves around a public speaking contest that is judged based on subject-matter, composition, and delivery.
This year was the definition of women in power. All seven of our finalists identify as women and each of them nominated other women for their ‘profile in courage’. To review, our speakers had to create a persuasive speech based on the following prompt:
This competition started off with Molly Sheets ’26, who blew us away by bringing attention to a woman named Hannie Schaft. Hannie was a resistance fighter during World War II. She quickly became known as “the girl with red hair” and was sought after by Hitler himself because her actions were so significant that she was seen as a threat to his work. From there, Nhu (May) Nguyen ’23 spoke about Michelle Yeoh, a famous Malaysian actress. This speech hit on a number of points including gender discrimination, the underrepresentation of Asian women in American movies, and the fight against cultural disapproval.
The third speaker was Kiran Patil ’24, who spoke about a war journalist named Nicole Tung. Kiran educated us about the importance of capturing these events and spreading them for the world to see. In order for change to happen, we must recognize the violence and suffering that is present in our world and exploit the horrors that would otherwise be hidden. After her, Lillian Case ’25 came in with a speech about Ida B. Wells, who was a leader in the civil rights movement. In her lifetime, Ida was also a journalist and in order to write the stories she desired, she ended up buying co-ownership of the newspaper. To bring even more attention to what she wrote, she printed all of her stories on pink paper, so that even those who couldn’t read would be able to partake in her goals.
Jumping from one movement to the next, Elizabeth Bailey ’23 enlightened us about what it is like to be gay. She spoke about her own experiences and fears while relating them to a loose thread that she once hid. However, after accepting herself and taking the steps to come out she was able to weave a bracelet by linking her support system together and by creating hope for the next person. Also touching on support systems was Hannah Kempken ’23 with her speech about Mrs. Schubert, the teacher of a lifetime. This teacher motivated, encouraged, and trusted her students to push their boundaries and exceed their personal expectations. Based on how and what she taught, those lessons will just keep giving.
Last but certainly not least was Kayla Blackstock ’23 with a speech about women in Iran. She exposed the brutality and fear these women face because of the Iranian government and mandates they are expected to follow seamlessly. Bringing attention to this horror will hopefully encourage others to step up and help these women who are being forced to have moral strength in the face of danger.
As you can see, these speeches opened our eyes and thoughts as we learned about people, events, and ideas that are all part of our world. The judges had a lot of work cut out for them and took their time when deciding who would place in this year’s competition. Elizabeth Bailey placed first, Lillian Case was second, and Kayla Blackstock was third. As students, we also had a voice in deciding who we thought should win. This ended up leading to another moment in Juniata history where the People’s Choice Award resulted in a tie between Elizabeth Bailey and Lillian Case. Overall, congratulations to all of our finalists and their inspiring speeches that led to another successful year of the Bailey Oratorical!
If you missed the Bailey Oratorical, you can watch the archive here.