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Four CCNY Undergrads Win in Two CUNY-Wide Competitions

Student Speech Competition winner Christopher Nickerson celebrates with his fiance.
Elizabeth Arias' photograph "Balance" took second prize in the visual arts category of the CUNY / LaborArts contest.
Bao Lin Zhang's "Working on Sunday" came in third.

Education major Christopher Nickerson wins speech competition; three studio art majors garner awards in LaborArts contest

Four City College of New York undergraduates were winners in two recent CUNY-wide student competitions. Christopher Nickerson, a sophomore in the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education, won first prize in the 2013 Student Speech Competition, and studio art majors Elizabeth Arias, Bao Lin Zhang and Steven Chalmers took second prize, third prize and honorable mention, respectively, in the visual arts category in the 2013 CUNY / LaborArts contest.

Mr. Nickerson won for “Third-Party Candidates...: Freedom of Choice in America,” a talk he presented to the CUNY League of Active Speech Professors (CLASP), the competition sponsor, at a March 22 meeting at York College. He is the first City College student to win the competition, and he received a trophy for his effort.

An early childhood education major, his persuasive political speech discussed why the United States should have more than just the Democratic and Republican candidates debating during the presidential elections. He stressed the importance of third-party candidates offering additional choices for public office. Mr. Nickerson mesmerized the judges with his enthusiasm, persuasive powers, articulation and use of language, voice and body to deliver his well-documented speech.

“I was so proud to have coached him. We worked tirelessly outside of class this semester, and all our hard work paid off,” said Dr. Robin Levenson, adjunct assistant professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences, his sponsor and coach for the contest. Nickerson’s speech came from a shorter version of a speech he had written for Professor Levenson’s Foundations of Speech class last fall.

The CUNY / LaborArts competition, which is open to CUNY undergraduates, offers cash prizes in four categories: poetry, essay, fiction/non-fiction narratives, and art. Entries should relate to labor arts – visual art about work and workers, and art by working people – and can include photographs, posters, buttons, banners and flyers, as well as paintings, sculpture and other fine art by or about working people.

Ms. Arias will receive $500 for her entry, titled “Balance,” a still-life photograph representing the balancing act facing women as both breadwinner and mother; Ms. Zhang will receive $250 for his entry, titled "Working on Sunday," a photograph of a Queens grocery store employee, and Mr. Chalmers will receive $100 for his entry, "Untitled (Joe Wyble)," a photograph of Mr. Wyble on his farm in upstate New York. The award ceremony will take place 5 – 7 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Lehman College Art Gallery on the Lehman College campus in the Bronx.  

Funded by the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, the LaborArts contest aims to expand student engagement with the underappreciated history of work and workers in this country and to revitalize the study of labor history at CUNY.

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Ellis Simon
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