Communication lecturer Heather Kavan has been recognised as one of the world’s most gifted speechwriters after she scooped a prestigious international award.
Dr Kavan won the education category of the Cicero Speech Writing Award for a written copy of a speech she delivered to PhD students in November.
Her speech, entitled You can get there from here: The highs and lows of writing a thesis, was given at the University’s Graduate Research School.
It aimed to convince doctoral students to continue their journey after the excitement of starting fades and through what she says can be “wearying years" of sustained study.
Dr Kavan is a lecturer in the Department of Communication, Journalism and Marketing in the University’s College of Business at Manawatu. The Cicero Awards are judged by top international speechwriters, with the winning speeches published on the Vital Speeches of the Day website. “I’m thrilled because there are some brilliant speeches in that publication,” says Dr Kavan.
The award judges said they recognised the "sweat, blood and magic" that goes into speech writing. Dr Kavan thinks her edge was that most of the award entrants are writing for others, whereas her experience was personal. “I was able to tell my own story and connect with the audience through it.”
In her speech she describes her thesis as a “scorched earth" way of completing a PhD. "Everything along the way was destroyed.” But she also reflects on the good times. “The best highs are the moments of discovery. Suddenly, inspiration strikes, and an idea flashes into your mind; your heart pounds; time stands still. You’ve discovered something, maybe even something no-one in the history of the world has noticed or understood.”
Dr Kavan's speech writing paper has received outstanding student reviews. In 2008 Dr Kavan won the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and, in 2009, a National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award for Sustained Excellence.
Click below to read the full speech: