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Students Excel at SCSTA College Festival

students competing at SCSTA
Lander University students excelled at the South Carolina Speech and Theatre Association College Festival, held recently at Limestone College in Gaffney. Pictured are, front row, left to right, Kimberly Freeman of North Charleston; Nicole Richmond of Columbia and Amy Becker of Beaufort; and back row, left to right, Zach Helms of Greenwood; Kelsey Risher of Birmingham, Ala.; Pasha Franklin of Orangeburg and Ryan Hewitt of Florence. Photo courtesy of Travis Banks of Saluda

For the fifth straight year, a Lander University student has won the triathlon award, the top prize at the annual competition of the South Carolina Speech and Theatre Association (SCSTA).

Past winners were Allie Mix (2007 and 2008), Daniel Camak (2009) and Ryan Hewitt (2010). This year's winner is Zach Helms, a 2007 graduate of Lander's mass communication program, full-time employee of Lander's Department of Housing and Residence Life, and new theatre student.

Helms earned first place in after dinner speaking in addition to winning the triathlon, which goes to the student with the highest total score in three speech, theatre and interpretive events.

This year's SCSTA College Festival, held at Limestone College in Gaffney, pitted mass communication and theatre students from Lander against students from Furman University, USC Upstate, USC Lancaster, Limestone College, Midlands Technical College, Newberry College, Claflin University and Tri-County Technical College.

Helms was not the only Lander student recognized at the event. Pasha Franklin of Orangeburg won first place in poetry and first place in prose; Ryan Hewitt of Florence won third place in impromptu speaking and third place in impromptu interpretation; Kimberly Freeman of North Charleston won third place in poetry; Amy Becker of Beaufort placed in the final rounds for audition monologues and duet acting; and Kelsey Risher of Birmingham, Ala., placed in the final rounds for impromptu speaking and duet acting.

Other participants from Lander were Travis Banks of Saluda, who competed in poetry and impromptu speaking; and Nicole Richmond of Columbia, who served as a timekeeper.

Helms credited Lander's mass communication program with preparing him for the success that he enjoyed at the festival. "It means a lot to go back to school after four years and still be successful using a lot of skills I learned during my first time as a student," he said.

Associate professor of theatre Monique Sacay-Bagwell, who helped prepare the Lander students for the festival and accompanied them on their trip, expressed pride in their achievements. "We have proved again that our program is a top contender in the field of communication and performance in South Carolina," she said.​