Oratory Competition

What is the most important American value for our democracy — and why?

The Politics Department Inaugural Oratory Competition

Thomas Jefferson was a great writer and understood the value of persuasive political oratory. In that tradition, the Politics Department sponsored a new UVa student competition, in which participants were judged on speechwriting ability and the quality of the delivery. The topic for the inaugural competition, held in the Rotunda on March 28, was, “What is the most important value for our American democracy — and why?”

The competition began with video submissions of six-minute speeches. Nine finalists competed in the Dome Room of the Rotunda. After excellent speaches by all of the finalists, the judges awarded the grand prize to Kate Sharman, fourth year student in the College, majoring in Foreign Affairs and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, for her speech on the importance of free expression to American democracy. Congratulations, Kate!  In addition to a $500 prize for the winner, all of the finalists received engraved Jefferson Cups.

Stay tuned for our next competition, coming Fall 2022!

Oratory Competition Committee

With support from the Department of Politics, the Oratory Competition is organized by a committee of UVa undergraduate students, committed to the idea of excellence in political oratory:

Aly Buckner
Ellen Coyne
Mark Graff
Hannah Han
Chris Obolensky
Jacob Womack

Faculty advisor: Mary Kate Cary


The oratory competition is sponsored by the Department of Politics, The Jefferson Literary & Debating Society, The University Democrats, and the College Republicans.