By DAVID GREEN
First at regionals. First at state. That was good for a trip to Dallas for Daniel Gautz for a chance to compete in the national competition.
Gautz joined 14 other Lenawee County students who qualified for the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) finals earlier this summer. He competed in the Researched Persuasive Speaking category.
Gautz didn’t come through with a first-place finish in Texas, but he was pleased with his performance.
“My coach had me practice a lot and I felt quite comfortable up on stage,” he said.
Students prepare by writing a researched paper on a topic. Then comes the effort to become completely familiar with the subject—familiar enough to give a five-minute speech. The talk is given before three judges and a timer. The goal is to talk for five minutes without going over the limit.
Contestants are allowed to consult note cards, but Gautz and most serious contenders avoid them. His talk—“Vegetarianism: a healthy alternative—was given from memory, and it helped that he knows the topic from experience. He’s been eating a vegetarian diet for four years.
Gautz, a recent Morenci graduate, took EMT classes at the LISD TECH Center and his teacher, Tom Ayers, served as his speech coach.
About 5,000 students from across the country competed at the national convention and Gautz enjoyed his time there immensely.
“It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of people to meet,” he said.
During their free time, students were advised to travel with a buddy when they went out to look around the city. When Gautz abided by that rule, he said he just picked out someone at random and asked if they wanted to go exploring.
“It was fun trying to navigate the bus and rail systems,” he said.
Gautz enjoyed his time with the HOSA organization—“I like to say it’s the hospital version of FFA”—and he’ll soon be leaving for classes at Grand Valley State.
He’s thinking of putting his LISD TECH knowledge into practice by obtaining part-time EMT work. He isn’t sure what he’ll major in at college, but he currently has a long-range goal of obtaining a doctorate in physical therapy.
And if he has the occasion to talk in front of a crowd, that challenge should now come more easily. His speeches so far have only been in front of a panel of three judges, but he does have a little crowd experience. It came after the announcement that he won the state title in the speech competition.
“I did a back-flip on the stage before several hundred people.”