The 15th Annual Joe and Steve Mercer Memorial Scholarship Speech Tournament, sponsored by the Department of Communication and Journalism and open to all UNM students, was held recently with 30 students vying for the top honor.

In a milestone year, the tournament had a record number of participants with the top six speakers from the preliminary round advancing to the final round. 

Any UNM student who will be a full-time undergraduate in the following fall semester is eligible for entering the tournament. Academic advisors help spread entry deadlines about a month before the competition. 

The instructions ask for the students to give an "8-9 minute speech on any topic of current relevance to local or New Mexico audiences." This year's winner was described as a fluid, dynamic speaker who made an effective appeal to encourage women in STEM. 

2017 Mercer Winners

1st place: Delaney Heileman ($1200)    
Major:  Computer Engineering
Speech topic: Women in STEM

2nd place: Adelynn Nee ($950)
Major:  Biology
Speech topic: Demand More from Government

3rd place: Afra Hussain ($700)
Major:  Biochemistry
Speech topic: Rural Health Care Gap

Finalist: Kaitlin Kerl ($250)
Major:  Strategic Communication
Speech topic: Marijuana Legalization

Finalist: Sofia Olay ($250)
Major:  Biology
Speech topic: Migrant Farm Workers’ Rights

Finalist: Jason Kitting ($250)
Major:  Biology/Anthropology
Speech topic: Health & Safety of Domestic Cats

The scholarship fund was endowed by Mrs. JoAnn Mercer in memory of her late-son and husband who were active in collegiate debate as students. Its purpose is to provide support for students interested and excelling in public speaking.