Project Pericles Participants from Bethune-Cookman University Place in New York Public Speaking/Civic Engagement Competition

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by: Dr. Joanna Showall, Associate Professor of Communication Studies

Project Pericles is a vibrant consortium of colleges and universities that promotes civic engagement within higher education.  Project Pericles’ collaborate with colleges to encourage faculty to incorporate civic engagement and social responsibility into the curriculum, and to empower students as effective advocates and leaders.  

Religion and Philosophy major Bryant Marshall Wilcox, Mass Communication major Talayah Daniels, and Criminal Justice Major Aniya Hardee recently participated in The D4D--Voting for Democracy Civic Engagement competition, under the direction of Dr. Joanna Showell, Associate Professor of Communication Studies.   Students wrote a letter to their local congressman concerning prison reform, an issue they deeply believe impacts their Daytona Beach community.  In their letter, they specifically addressed ideas for rehabilitation and prison reforms in local systems and received superb ratings as they were recognized for placing in the top 10 of 31 Periclean Institutions.  In addition to writing a letter to the elected official, students’ project proposals included a detailed budget that included costs for reforms.  The judges were extremely impressed with their letter and professional acumen!

Additionally, the students were rewarded with travel to New York to engage in political and media discussions with public policy experts, executive directors of social action nonprofits, the former president of the ACLU, and prominent journalists from New York and around the country.  They participated in panel discussions concerning political processes where they discussed issues of voter suppression, voter mobilization, and the evolving landscape of social media and journalism. 

Students gained the opportunity to experience multiple insights on the operations and functions of nonprofits and participated in social action committees. They toured a non- profit facility and explored the behind- the-scenes operational functions needed for its growth and sustainability.  One non-profit agency visited included, “I Have a Dream,” that helps children from low income communities achieve their full potential through mentoring, tutoring, and providing social/emotional support and academic enrichment; along with guaranteed tuition assistance for higher education. 

Every year, a panel of judges with significant legislative experience selects five winning letters written by teams of students. Project Pericles awards prizes to the winning student teams to support their efforts in moving their issues forward locally and nationally. The schools that received the award money were: Macalester College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College, Ursinus College and Whitman College. The executive directors, community members, faculty, and staff noted that they were very impressed with the student representatives from Bethune Cookman University! Go Wildcats!

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