CDU Enhanced Post Baccalaureate Program and District 1 Launch Speechcraft

Tina Tomiyama

Margaret Mitchell addressing scholars

“Post Bacc Program seeking Speechcraft. Let’s start a relationship!”  No one knew just what to expect when District 1 Toastmasters and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science’s (CDU) Enhanced Post Baccalaureate (EPB) Program joined forces to provide communication training to 15 scholars. Would the stars align?

Dr. Ngozi Chukwu, Director of the EPB Program, was searching for a way to enrich the communication skills of her pre-medical students and had heard good things about Toastmasters. Moreover, her former program assistant, Taynay Cameron, had previously participated in a Youth Leadership Program. In the spring of 2017, Taynay connected Dr. Chukwu with several Toastmasters, including the eminent Margaret Mitchell, veteran of four Speechcrafts; District 1’s 2016-2017 Speechcraft Chair Janet Cormier; and Karen Persip, who had chaired a Speechcraft at St Francis Medical Center.

Natalie Torres-Haddad works with two scholars on their Icebreaker

The planners met over the spring and summer to tailor the best possible experience for the 15 scholars for their Fall 2017 semester in the EPB Program. As Chair, Margaret enlisted her mentee Natalie Torres-Haddad as Co-Chair and signed up more than a dozen enthusiastic Toastmasters from seven clubs in District 1 to help.

With 15 scholar-participants, it was clear that not every scholar could give a prepared speech at every one of the 8 Speechcraft sessions. Margaret and Dr. Chukwu carefully worked out a syllabus to maximize the communication training that was possible. At each two-hour session, Speechcraft team members offer educational and demonstration speeches addressing one of the first eight projects in the Competent Communicator manual. Meanwhile, half the scholars give a prepared speech at each meeting while the other half practices Table Topics™. And not just any Table Topics™ — these topics are carefully aligned with the scholars’ curriculum.

The Speechcraft team includes Co-Chairs Margaret Mitchell and Natalie Torres-Haddad, Advisors Karen Persip, Martha Pickett-Patterson, Jessica Allen and Tina Tomiyama, and additional team members Daniel Andrade, Laura Brown, Richard Carbajal, Janet Cormier, Mello Desire, Shron and Alvin Hall, Diane Markham, Lydia Martinez, and Alonzo Williams.

Sponsoring and represented clubs are Compton Elite Communicators, Century City Toastmasters, C.I.T.I.E.S. Club, Ethical Elite, Mission Control, Praisemasters, and StoryMasters.

Did the stars align?  How is the relationship coming along?

“I don’t know when I’ve been so impressed!” whispered Karen Persip as we listened to an hour of enthralling Icebreaker speeches. “These students are incredible!”

“Speechcraft really works in a college setting,” said Margaret Mitchell. “It dovetails with a semester or trimester system and provides a fine introduction to the Toastmasters program.”

Will CDU continue to include a Speechcraft in the EPB program in future? “I would love to incorporate Speechcraft into the program every year,” said Dr. Chukwu, smiling warmly, “In fact, the reviews thus far have been so positive, we have already begun to discuss ways of introducing it to the faculty and staff.”

Enjoy these 6 pictures of the first session, and stay tuned for the wrap-up in December.

Advisors Tina Tomiyama, Karen Persip, Martha Pickett-Patterson and Laura Brown.
Scholars discuss Icebreaker topics while Dr Chukwu (standing in doorway) takes pictures
Scholars stand and introduce themselves to the Speechcraft team
Scholars work in pairs on their first assignment