A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


Speaking Competitively Without Actually Speaking

Attorney by day and red-masked vigilante by night, fictional comic book character Matthew Murdock spends his evenings pulverizing the criminals of Hell’s Kitchen, ensuring that its citizens stay safe. Defending the people of his city with his unique style of mixed martial arts, his acrobatic agility, and his ultra-heightened senses, he is their savior. Their hero. Their fearless, protective watcher. This marvel of a superhero, commonly known as Daredevil, also happens to be blind. Yet, if you asked any of the behind-bars-baddies whom happened to be unfortunate enough to be members of his Wrong End of the Stick Club, every one of them would certainly attest to the fact that Matthew’s 0/0 vision in no way hindered his ability to physically persuade them into the submission of his mercy. Much like Daredevil shows us that you don’t need the ability of eyesight to see and fight crime, one Mt. Sac student shows us that you don’t need the facility of spoken word to speak, or the faculty of hearing to be heard.

31-year-old Jennifer Macias recently made history by becoming the first deaf student to engage in competitive speech and debate on Mt. Sac’s Forensics team. She didn’t just compete against the students from other colleges either, she swept the floor with them by winning numerous gold medals, adding to the legacy and prestige of Mt. Sac’s Forensics’ successful history. Serving as the mere hors d’oeuvre that supercharged her innate appetite to challenge herself, her road to competitive public speaking all started with the argumentation and debate class she excelled in during the Spring 2016 semester.

“I thought she was a talented student who worked incredibly hard to prepare for her debates, and with the help of her interpreters, she delivered strong, logical arguments,” Danny Cantrell, Macias’ argumentation and debate professor and one of her future Forensics coaches, said. “I was so impressed with her proficiency in my class that I thought she would be a talented performer to compete with us on the Forensics Team.”

The speech, or as it is referred to in a tournament, the independent event, that Jennifer competed with is called an “After Dinner Speech,” or ADS.

“The purpose of an ADS is to inform an audience about the intricacies of a current issue, but to do so by incorporating the use of humor into the given topic,” Cantrell said. “I read an article about how difficult it is in the ASL community to have the sex ed talk because of how graphic the signs are, and because Jennifer liked to crack jokes and was always so humorous in class, I thought an ADS was the perfect speech for her with the perfect topic.”

Her personality matched up well enough with the topic for her to not only compete with her After Dinner Speech in numerous tournaments, but won a handful of gold medals as well.

Macias only began her adventure as a competitive speaker after being pushed into it by a fellow student.

“At the Speech and Sign Success Center there was a tutor there named Alexx Romero, and she always told me about Forensics, and I thought Forensics was something about criminal investigations,” Macias said, laughing. “After, she explained that Forensics was about speaking and competing in tournaments and she encouraged me to join the team, and it just skyrocketed from there.”

Romero, 22, who is currently majoring in ASL/English Interpreting at Western Oregon University, is a mentor for speech and American Sign Language, a Mt. Sac Alumnus, and a former Forensics team member. During the time she spent with Jennifer, Romero took an active role in making sure Macias ended up on the Forensics team.

“Whenever I talked about Forensics she seemed pretty interested, and I didn’t see why her being deaf should have had an effect on her being able to compete, so I kept pushing her until she auditioned,” Romero said. “I think when she got on the team I was actually more excited for her than she was,” she added, laughing.

Although it wasn’t until she fully gathered her rhythm in the realm of competitive speaking that she started bringing home the gold against the top speakers of other community colleges, from her very first tournament she established a name for herself by slamming onto the Forensics circuit like a wrecking ball, stealing a silver medal.

“The tournament was the ultimate challenge because I really needed to figure out how to get hearing people to understand deaf culture,” said Macias.

One of her favorite experiences where she really felt the team’s camaraderie was on the road during a travel tournament in Northern California at Chabot College, which is where she also won her first gold medal.

“I saw everybody’s stressful moments and nobody sleeping enough, and everyone was constantly practicing, and I felt like we were really going through it together.,” Macias said. “We were always joking with each other, and we were able to bond as a team.”

Macias’s knack for being a masterful communicator doesn’t appear as if it will be stopping any time soon beyond Forensics either.

“One of my goals is to become a keynote speaker and spread awareness and inspire people, and to be an advocate for the deaf community by figuring out how deaf and hearing people can work better together,” she said.

One of the ways that she may establish herself as a successful keynote speaker could very well be her use of comedy and her aptitude to make people laugh. Her comedic speech on sex education was so well received that she finds herself being frequently asked about performing further acts with comedy.

“I have lost count of how many people have asked me about doing a comedy show at Mt. SAC,” Macias said. “But a comedian? If it happens with the right place at the right time, maybe.”

Because the potential road to stand up comedy is presently up in the air, Jennifer’s fans may find themselves malnourished of and pining for more of her distinctive style of humor. The good news is that for those who can’t get enough of her or have not yet seen her speech, below is a small taste of it.

While she’s not occupied using her comedic talent putting smiles on the faces of everyone she crosses path with, Jennifer spends her time traversing the globe every chance she gets.

“I love traveling. Traveling is in my heart,” Macias said. So far, Macias has stashed 38 of the continental United States, various European states, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Aruba under her nomadic belt, and she has no plans on putting the brakes on her global road trip any time soon. Her next intended destination includes various parts of the Middle East.

She might also give Matt Murdock a run for his money in the daredevil department. Seemingly fearless of all things land, sea, and air, Jennifer is currently on the road to obtaining an M1 motorcycle license, floating on her ambition of obtaining a scuba license, and highly enjoys the free fall of skydiving. While Murdock may be the heroic crime fighting sensation that he is on the page, Jennifer shows us that marvelling inspirations can exist in real life as well.

“I think it was very brave for a deaf student to compete in an activity that traditionally privileges students of hearing, and it was very exciting for all of us when Jennifer would win,” Roger Willis-Raymundo, 33, a Forensics coach and speech professor at Mt. SAC, said. “I often felt like it wasn’t just me who was teaching Jennifer, but rather I was also learning new skills from her.”

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About the Contributor
Jared Morrison
Jared Morrison, Author
Jared Morrison is the former features editor for SAC on Scene. He is majoring in journalism, often speaks to inanimate objects and/or himself, is a strong advocate for breakfast food, and frequently stumbles over his words. Badly.

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