Speaking engagement: Vancouver students say it with confidence

Vancouver Toastmasters
Members of the Global Leaders Toastmasters Club include: (L to R) Klimentiy Kenzikeyev, Minh Mac, Sherry Henriquez, Regina Pinto, Julia Kuznetsova, Fan "Monica" Yi, Rawan Madani, Carlos Martell and Junghhoon "Neo" Sung. (Photo courtesy of Arlette Hernandez)

By Kenna Caprio

A toast to the toast makers! The Global Leaders Toastmasters Club, borne out of Toastmasters International, just celebrated its second anniversary at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Vancouver Campus — and its members are speaking up.

“The club is much more than just learning and practicing public speaking,” says Arlette Hernandez, assistant director of enrollment services at the Vancouver Campus. “It’s about getting that job interview, getting an ‘A’ on a class presentation and taking major leadership roles on campus and in the community. It’s about giving our students one more tool before they leave campus.” She spearheads the group, comprised of 21 Vancouver Campus students and alumni from Canada, Russia, Mexico, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Brazil, Taiwan, China, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Members “learn by doing,” says club president and undergraduate student Sherry Henriquez, as the club provides a judgment-free forum for public speaking and critique. International students and alumni often join to practice and perfect their English skills.

“As a team we encourage, motivate and support each other to take a challenge, come to the stage and speak up. This is how we discover our potential,” says member Julia Kuznetsova, MAS’14 (Van), of Russia.

In the workshop atmosphere, students can make mistakes and still move forward. “We gain confidence and courage to speak in front of a crowd, sometimes with no preparation. Many students come to the club because they consider themselves to be shy, and they want to become better communicators and captivate audiences,” says Henriquez, originally from El Salvador.

Toastmasters cake

Speaking on all manner of topics, club members learn to feel more comfortable presenting in front of a crowd.

“We are a ‘thinking’ club as well. We bring thought-provoking, amusing topics to discuss: culture, personal development, education, global issues, and life itself,” says Kuznetsova. “We get a chance to share our thoughts and ideas and see the world from different perspectives to broaden our horizons.”

Members manage the club together and contribute to its success by taking on leadership positions and rotating those roles. Currently, graduate student Monica Fan Yi of China serves as the vice president for membership. “Now I have much more confidence on the stage and I love to share my fantastic experiences with everybody,” she says. Since joining the club a year ago, Yi says she’s built friendships right alongside her public speaking and leadership skills.

“Global leaders know that we all have something to say. We are here to help you say it with confidence,” says Hernandez.