Baylor Senior Advances To State Japanese Language Competition

Feb. 18, 2010

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Baylor University senior Rachel McCutchen, a professional writing major from Houston, has become the first Baylor student to win the Dallas Regional Japanese Language Speech Contest and will now advance to the state competition March 6 in Houston.

At the regional contest organized by the Dallas Japanese Association and the Dallas-region Japanese Teachers Association of Texas, participants write and memorize a two- to three-minute speech and recite it before a panel of judges, who judge the content, delivery and pronunciation of the individual speeches. The panel is made up of Japanese language professors and representatives from Japanese-related organizations.

McCutchen'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," she said.

McCutchen spent three weeks writing and practicing her speech with the help of Baylor Japanese professor Yuko Prefume. "I am a tough coach, but [Rachel] worked really hard," Prefume said. Of all of her students, Prefume said, "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."

McCutchen has studied Japanese for more than three years. "It was surreal when I realized I had won first place," she said. "I felt as if all my hard work had actually gotten me somewhere."

Although she has enjoyed her regional victory, McCutchen is preparing now for the upcoming state competition. "The judging is harder, but the prizes are bigger," she said. In addition to a speech, the state competition adds a question-and-answer section that will test McCutchen's ability to think and respond in Japanese.

Prizes at the state level 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," McCutchen said.

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

Media contact: Will Crockett, College of Arts and Sciences, (254) 710-3145

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