Speech Majors Katharine Torres and Christine Nishinaga.

The Art of Rhetoric and Public Speaking

An Interview with Katharine Torres, ’17, and Christine Nishinaga, ’16

Written by Chandler Lasch

I interviewed speech majors Katharine Torres, ’17, and Christine Nishinaga, ’16, separately, so it was by pure coincidence that both emphasized how much they love their advanced public speaking course and Dr. Kiledal herself. It was exciting to see how passionate these girls are about their major and how much good the speech department has done for them already.

What brought you to Hillsdale?

Christine: I lived in the same house all my life in a suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had a solid group of friends that never changed, and I did well in school. All my life, I’d been playing it safe, but now, I wanted an adventure. I wanted to go to a college that would allow me to stay true to myself but also challenge me to grow as an individual and as a student, and that’s how I discovered Hillsdale. And let me tell you, as a California girl being dropped into snowy Hillsdale, Michigan, it has definitely been an adventure!

Kat: I was recruited by Coach Towne for track and field when I was in high school. I visited the campus, and almost instantly upon arrival I knew this was the place for me. The philosophy of the school was the number one attraction for me, but it was also the nature of the school that made me feel like I belonged. The small class sizes, the relationship students have with their professors, and the small campus felt very safe and inviting.I initially was looking to be a lawyer, and I felt that Hillsdale’s curriculum would more than prepare me for law school.

What attracted you to the speech major?

Christine: I’ve been tap dancing since the first grade, so I was comfortable in front of an audience, and I’ve always loved meeting new people and learning their stories. In grade school, I liked giving presentations and talking in front of the class, so when I got to Hillsdale, choosing speech as my major was an easy decision.

Kat: Toward the end of my freshman year, my interests gravitated away from law and more toward journalism as I began writing for the Collegian, the campus newspaper. Being an athlete, I enjoyed writing for the sports section the most and decided that sports reporting would be the greatest career in the world. I connected with Dr. Kiledal, who told me how powerful of an art rhetoric and public address was, and that the speech department offered a wide variety of classes that would hone my speaking skills to prepare me for being on camera, as well as give me the tools and knowledge I would need to be a polished, professional, and informed reporter.

What has been your favorite class?

Christine: Advanced public speaking with Dr. Kiledal. It’s important to study the history of rhetoric and read journal articles written by experts in the field, but you learn the most when you can apply and use those ideas in your own work. In this class, I got to write and give a mock-convocation speech, a tribute speech about my best friend, and an informative business presentation, among many others.

Kat: So far, advanced public speaking has been a joy. We have given a variety of speeches throughout the semester, and I have seen a large improvement in myself in so many ways through this class alone. We have done numerous voice, lung capacity, and breathing exercises that have helped me immensely, not only in giving speeches but in my sports reporting. It is one of those classes where you see how it is applicable in so many ways outside of the classroom, so you can’t help but get really excited to learn every time you walk into class.

Do you have a particular story that highlights what you love about the department?

Christine: In November, Dr. Kiledal took us on a thesis retreat up to Rockwell Lake Lodge so we could have an uninterrupted block of time to work on our theses. We had writing workshops in the morning and evening and time to explore the beautiful outdoors in the afternoon. Dr. Kiledal also brought homemade snacks and treats for us to enjoy, and the love she had for all of us was self-evident. She’s constantly thinking of others before herself and genuinely wants the best for her students.

Kat: For me, what makes the speech department unlike any other is my advisor and professor, Dr. Kiledal. She has been such a driving force for me and has given me so much confidence in my abilities. She is a person who has vastly impacted my growth as a rhetor, reporter, student, and young woman. I couldn’t imagine my college experience without her guidance, love, and support for all of us speech kids.

Christine, what specifically interests you about organizational communication, marketing, and persuasion theory? 

Christine: As a business administration minor, it was interesting to see how the studies of communications and business overlapped. When I was sitting in my principles of marketing class, I couldn’t help but think about what persuasion theories and interpersonal communication strategies could also be applied to this marketing class. It was then I realized I wanted to learn more about the communication side of business, which is how I picked my thesis topic.

Tell us about your thesis, Christine.

Christine: My thesis will explore how businesses engage with their consumer audiences, particularly the Millennial generation. Using Chipotle Mexican Grill’s marketing strategy as a case study, I will examine their use of persuasion and rhetoric theories with the hope of inspiring other businesses to participate in alternative marketing strategies and learn how to reach success in an ever-changing marketing environment.

Kat, why is sports broadcasting an area that interests you?

Kat: I am a huge sports fan. I love the atmosphere of sporting arenas and the place that sports has in the heart of American culture. Because of that, it was a no brainer for me to center my career around something that brings me so much joy. Reporting in general is a difficult craft, and only the best make it look easy. I think the challenge of being a high-quality reporter, on top of having broad but extensive knowledge on a variety of sports is so enthralling to me; I can’t get enough of it. I also love the responsibility that a reporter has to tell an honest but compelling story that people actually want to listen to, that they will tell their friends about later. When that’s achieved, it’s a beautiful harmony of journalism and rhetoric working together, and it’s incredible to be the driving force behind that through my own voice.

Why would you recommend someone to study speech, especially at Hillsdale? 

Christine: The small class sizes of Hillsdale’s speech department allow you to truly engage in your classes and get to know your classmates. The students who make up the speech major are all so talented; I honestly learn as much from them as I do from our lectures. My major has allowed me to grow as a student and has supplied me with the tools I need to reach success once I leave Hillsdale.

Kat: Speech is the greatest major ever! It is so hands-on and personal. The experience I’ve had is second to none. With the amount of focus our professors have on each of us, everything is catered to your interests, almost as if you have your own custom major. It isn’t easy, but the growth that I have had from it has been so valuable to me, and I know it will be useful no matter what career I go into.

Chandler LaschA resident of sunny Southern California, Chandler Lasch, ‘18, is currently studying history and theatre. She enjoys graphic design, iced hazelnut lattes, and Disney movies.