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Student Wins Language Competition

Feb. 17, 2010

Rachel McCutchen, a senior from Houston, is Baylor's first student to win the Dallas Regional Japanese Language Speech contest and will go on to compete in the Texas State Japanese Language Speech contest in March.

The Dallas Regional Japanese Speech Contest is organized by the Dallas Japanese Association and the Japanese Teachers Association of Texas, Dallas Region. Participants write and memorize a two- to three-minute speech and recite it before a panel of judges. They are judged on the content, delivery and pronunciation of their speeches. Judges are Japanese language professors and representatives from Japanese-related organizations.

Rachel's speech topic was cultural identity and its meaning. "In the end culture cannot be defined by one word. It is not skin color or nationality, but something you have to discover for yourself," Rachel says.

Rachel spent three weeks writing and practicing her speech with the help of her Japanese professor, Yuko Prefume. "I am a tough coach, but [Rachel] worked really hard," Professor Prefume says.

Rachel's win was especially satisfying because it finally gave Baylor a win over SMU, Professor Prefume jokes. "Truly, whether they win or not, I am proud of all of them. It takes a lot of commitment and I appreciate their hard work for representing the university and promoting our Japanese program," Professor Prefume says.

Rachel has studied Japanese for over 3 years. "It was surreal when I realized I had gotten first place," she says. "I felt as if all my hard work had actually gotten me somewhere."

Although she enjoys her victory, Rachel knows state competition is right around the corner. "The state competition scares me a little. The judging is harder and the prizes are bigger," she says. In addition to a speech, the state competition adds a question and answer section that will test Rachel's ability to think and respond in Japanese.

The state competition will be held March 6 in Houston. Prizes include a $1,000 scholarship and a trip to Japan. "I really want to have fun with the state competition, like I did at regional competition. I am looking forward to hearing great speeches and testing my own abilities further," Rachel says.

For more information about the Texas State Japanese Language Speech Contest visit: http://www.jtat.org/SpeechContest10/21stSpeechContest.htm