The first virtual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest will take place on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. via the Goshen College livestream. Five speakers have been selected to deliver an 8 to 10 minute speech on a topic of their choice related to peace and justice. The event will be judged by Robert Brenneman, Goshen College professor of criminal justice and sociology; Malinda Berry, associate professor of theology and ethics at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS); and Janna Hunter-Bowman, assistant professor of peace studies and Christian social ethics at AMBS. The winner will receive a cash prize. The following students will be speaking, and have briefly commented on what their topic means to them. 


Gabriella Klopfenstein, a junior public relations major from Goshen, on “Share the Road: My Dad’s Story.”

“An afternoon bike ride has looked different for me in recent years. Throughout my childhood, biking to my grandparents and to The Chief was always a go-to activity. However, in 2019, my dad was hit by a car while he was riding his bike in the afternoon. He didn’t make it. I am going to be talking about the importance of cyclists’ and drivers’ harmony on the road, the holes I see in our community, and ways we, as bikers and drivers, can improve how we share the road.”

Olivia Krall, a sophomore history major from Carmel, Indiana, on “The Rope That Ties Peace and Pain Together.”

“Two years ago in Ukraine, I was introduced to the idea of generational trauma. Since then, I have been curious about how it has impacted my own family, and how it affects our community and campus. In my speech, I attempt to explore the complicated relationship between trauma and peace.”

Mackenzie Miller, a senior journalism and English major from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on “Making Peace with Death: Transforming a Language of Violence and Inequality in America.”

“I knew early on that I wanted to speak about death, and after a semester spent in the GC newsroom, the overwhelming reality of COVID-19 and cries for racial justice led me to explore the way the language of death is shaped in this American culture. It is unequal; it is violent. My hope is that listeners will engage with death differently after hearing my speech. To acknowledge death is not to ignore life, but rather to be fully present to the reality of our human existence.”

Lisa Nalliah, a sophomore environmental and marine science major from Huntington, Indiana, on “Change Is Purple.”

“My speech is on climate change and political polarization. This speech navigates how we can overcome contentious issues, such as climate change, while acknowledging the impact of polarization in our country. I hope listeners can think further about how we can resolve both polarization and climate change effectively.”

Denisse Aguilar, a sophomore psychology and sociology major from Goshen, on “Living the American Dream on Borrowed Time.”