The contest challenges students to incorporate the Rotary’s 4-way ethical standards test into a speech that captures each student’s passion. The standards ask if statements are true, fair, build goodwill and are beneficial to all.
Rajagopala, a junior at Walnut Hills High School, talked about what she called “lookism” – the practice of letting outward looks dictate our evaluation of ourselves and others. She said everything from skin color and weight to what clothes you wear can block individuals from getting to know each other’s beliefs, values and opinions. “Lookism crushes the belief that one can do and be anything,” she said. “It’s time to start a new trend – we are all beautiful.”
She won the Rotary Club of Cincinnati’s contest in February, which qualified her to compete in the regional contest. She received a trophy and a $400 prize and will deliver her winning speech at the Rotary District Conference in Springfield, Ohio, on April 28.
“This is an outstanding experience for high school students,” said Cincinnati Rotarian Bill Shula of Bethel. “The speeches are very personal and impact the audience.”
Mark Reckman, a member of the Rotary Club of Cincinnati speech committee, said students build lifelong skills in the contest. “It gives support and a venue for kids to hone both their thought processes and presentation skills,” said Reckman of Wyoming, OH.
Rotary is a professional service and networking organization bringing business professionals together to benefit the community. The Rotary Club of Cincinnati is the largest and oldest Rotary Club in Greater Cincinnati with close to 350 members.