Sara Lynn Bowser, a senior at South Effingham High School, won the Coastal Empire Leadership Development Association’s local speech contest, held Feb. 15 at Armstrong Atlantic State University.
Bowser won $300 for her efforts in the contest. It was the first step toward competing for a $4,000 prize in a nationwide contest sponsored by the National Management Association, the world’s largest leadership and professional development association.
Bowser’s speech focused on her father’s leadership and his military service as a continuation of the dream started almost 250 years ago in the American Revolution. Bowser said the soldier of today, like her father, “sacrifices his life for America’s future, just as the founding fathers once sacrificed theirs.”
She also received the Fred Blum Award. To commemorate the 26th anniversary of the NMA speech contest, the award was named in honor of World War II veteran and NMA member Fred Blum, who died in 2011.
Blum worked as an aerospace engineer in hydraulics and mechanical systems for most of his life. He attended nearly every contest or student presentation over the years. Many students considered him a counselor or mentor while they participated in the speech contest.
The local competition was open to all students from high schools in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. Dan Brown, a senior at Bluffton (S.C.) High School, finished second, earning $200. McCall Faciszewski, a sophomore at Bluffton, finished third and won $100.
Other contestants were Grant Nelson of Savannah Arts Academy, Ahmad Smith of New Hampstead High School, Lauren Fitzgerald of Islands High School, Kara Klein of Hilton Head (S.C.) High School and Stephen Simmons of New Hampstead High School.
Judging was done by a panel of communication professionals and/or Toastmaster International members. Baibry’s Coffee and Café in Rincon was an associate sponsor.
Bowser will compete March 22 in Aiken, S.C., for a $500 prize against students sponsored by other chapters of the NMA Peach Council from Georgia and South Carolina. The winner of the NMA Peach Council contest will participate in the regional competition in June in Greenville, S.C., with a $1,000 prize at stake for contestants from other council winners and chapters in 25 states. Four regional winners will vie for the top prize of $4,000 at the NMA’s annual conference in September in Miami.