Speech Trek is now Tech Connect

Speech Trek Competition

In 2021, the Mariposa branch of AAUW replaced Speech Trek with Tech Connect. Information on this fun competition coming soon.

2019 Speech Trek Competition

“How can we–students, parents, faculty, our communities, and organizations such as AAUW–eliminate violence aimed at our schools? What actions can we take to prevent another tragedy from taking place?”

Watch the winning speech HERE.


2017 Speech Trek Competition

“Is it time to pass the Equal Rights Amendment?”

Our wonderful Students: Violet Matlock, participant; Kiki Rizqi, fourth place; Makinna Dulcich, third; Samantha Telles-Trujillo, second; and Hanna Swiecki, first place!

Coordinator Jill Harry receiving thanks from co-presidents Rebecca Swisher and Maddie Brown.

Congratulations to this year’s Speech Trek contestants! We are not exaggerating in the least when we say how impressed we were with the content and delivery of their memorized 5-6 minute speeches on the topic of, “Is it time to pass the Equal Rights Amendment?” They made the judges’ job in choosing a winner very difficult. But choose they did.

Congratulations to Hannah Swiecki who came in first place. Her video will be entered into the state-wide semifinals. If chosen, Hannah will have an opportunity to perform at the state annual meeting in San Mateo in April for a chance to win up to $1,500.

Congratulations to all of the students who participated. They are all winners!

We would also like to thank:

  • Jill Harry for coordinating the event
  • AAUW members who stepped up as coaches and worked with students on delivery and presentation the past few months (and acted as cheerleaders!): Kendra Atkins, Cindy Harp, Pam Deyell Gingold, Kris Casto, and Audrey Davis
  • Our MCHS liaisons who help in so many ways including being constant resources for the students: Bryan Starchman and Kim Monson (unofficial coach to all)
  • Our wonderful judges: the Honorable Michael Fagalde, Rosemarie Smallcombe, and Chevon Kothari
  • All of the AAUW volunteers who helped to make this event so successful
  • Special thanks also to the student who acted as our videographer for the evening and teacher Walt Hebern who will assist posting the video of the speeches to Youtube
  • All who showed up to support these students – our future leaders!

Speech Trek is a great experience for participating students, giving them an opportunity to hone research, writing, memorization, and presentation skills – all very important skills to have as they move on through school and careers. Thanks, everyone, for helping to make this possible!

Speech Videos

Topic: Gender Bias and Inequality 2015-2016 Contest

Claire and family

UPDATE! Claire places 3rd at the State Competition!

Claire Gorham, earned Third Place and $500 in the State Level 2016 AAUW “Speech Trek” contest) at San Mateo on Saturday, April 16. Gorham, a junior at Mariposa County High School, was competing against thirteen students from AAUW branches all over the state, and was one of three finalists to perform her speech live to an enthusiastic audience at the state AAUW Conference.

Gorham, who was also playing the role of the wicked stepmother in the high school production of Cinderella the weekend of the final speech contest, drove to San Mateo with her parents on Saturday morning and made it back in time for the Saturday evening performance of the play

– that is impressive dedication!

Gorham is 16 years old and the president of our local 4-H club, secretary of MCHS’s California Scholarship Federation chapter, and an active member of French club. This is Claire’s second year competing in the AAUW speech contest. She hopes to attend college at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Fresno State University, or UC Davis. She wants to become a veterinarian.12772047_10205767989061918_951099841466041050_o

Click to watch the winning speeches

  • 1st place –  Claire Gorham here
  • 2nd place – Hannah Swiecki here
  • 3rd place – Samantha Telles-Trujillo here

Mariposa County High School student, Claire Gorham, earned First Place and $150 in the 2016 “Speech Trek” contest hosted by AAUW (American Association of University Women) on Wednesday, February 24, at the MCHS Fiester Auditorium. Gorham received top scores for her polished and well-researched 5-minute speech on the thought-provoking topic, “Gender Bias and Inequality.”  Gorham will advance to the state semi-finals for consideration as a finalist at the state-wide competition in San Mateo, CA in April.

The Second Place winner, Hannah Swiecki, took home $100 and the Third Place award of $50 was handed to Samantha Telles-Trujillo. The three top scorers were among five impressive contestants who participated in this annual event, which was organized by Speech Trek Coordinator Jill Harry of Mariposa branch of AAUW with the support of Bryan Starchman, MCHS’s English/Drama teacher.

The contest was judged by an exceptional panel of community members: Michael A. Fagalde, Mariposa County Superior Court Judge; Chevon Kothari, Mariposa County Director of Human Services; and Rosemarie Smallcombe, Mariposa County District 1 Supervisor. Several volunteer AAUW members and high school teacher Kim Monson also gave their time and talent to coach the contestants during their preparations.

For more information contact:

 Jill Harry, Speech Trek Coordinator
jill.e.harry@gmail.com; 209-374-3392

2014-2015 Contest

November 13, 2014

See the winning speech by Claire Gorham by clicking here.

Claire placed 5th in the State competition!


 Topic: College: Is it worth the time and expense?

In 2013, former US Secretary of Education, William Bennett, released his book, Is College Worth It? On the inside cover, the following description appears:

For many students, a bachelor’s degree is considered the golden ticket to a more financially and intellectually fulfilling life. But the disturbing reality is that debt, unemployment and politically charged pseudo learning are more likely outcomes for many colege students today than full-time employment and time-honored knowledge.

Also in 2013, AAUW released a research report entitled Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success. The report describes how “more than ever before, women are relying on community colleges as the gateway to hight education.” With costs rising, class size expanding, length of terms increasingandpay levels for college education women at 80% of their male counterparts, is AAUW wrong-headed in continuing its 133 year history of promoting and funding higher education for women?

Using personal experience and/or resources such as these, answer, in 5-6 minutes, the question College: Is it worth the time and expense?


2014 Competition

Topic: Women at the top….why not?

View the CA State Finalist videos by clicking the links below

First Place

Anneka Sonstroem (Stockton Branch) Click here

Second Place

Marian Pagaduan (Oakdale-Riverbank-Escalon Branch)  Click here

Third Place 

 Divya Gopisetty (Morgan Hill Branch) Click here



2012 Competition!

Topic: Sexual HARASSMENT IN SCHOOLS . . . big deal?

Click here to watch the 2012 AAUW Branch winning speech by Tierney Pretzer!  Tierney went on to place 3rd in the CA state competition in Sacramento!



Congratulations to Tierney Pretzer, our Mariposa first place winner who placed third in the CA state Competition on Saturday, April 20th. The competition was held in the state capital at the AAUW annual meeting.

Watch the speech here.

The Fiester Auditorium was the location for the 2nd annual Speech Competition with the topic: Sexual Harassment in School….Big Deal?

The competitors included: Tierney Pretzer, 1st place, Kira Hart, 2nd place, Martin Mendoza Garcia, 3rd place, Mika Pieper-White and Kylie Treese, Honorable Mention.

Thank you to our Coaches: Kris Casto, Anne Richardson, Jill Rowney,  Marilyn Saunders, Sue Overstreet, and Dawn Johnson

Thank you to our Judges: Susan Robinson, Donna Sisson and Terry Selk


 Download the Study:

Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School (AAUW Study)

Based on findings from a nationally representative survey conducted in May and June, 2011, this report presents the most comprehensive research to date on sexual harassment in grades 7-12 and reveals some sobering statistics about the prevalence of sexual harassment and the negative impact it has on students’ education.

2012-2013  Results

The Fiester Auditorium was the location for the 2nd annual Speech Competition with the topic: Sexual Harassment in School….Big Deal?

The competitors included: Tierney Pretzer, 1st place, Kira Hart, 2nd place, Martin Mendoza Garcia, 3rd place, Mika Pieper-White and Kylie Treese, Honorable Mention.





Speech Trek
February 15, 2012

Congratulations to the Participants

The auditorium was filled with family, friends, coaches and judges as the Inaugural Speech Trek Program started. The students gave remarkable speeches on the topic of Bullying: So What?

First Place, Juliana Bodfish -$250.00
Second Place, Daniella Rogerson -$150.00
Third Place, Joeseph Curti -$100.00
Honorable Mention, Brooke Earling -$25.00
Honorable Mention Kylie Treese -$25.00

First Place, Juliana Bodfish; Second Place, Daniella Rogerson; Third Place, Joeseph Curti, Honorable Mention, Brooke Earling, Honorable Mention Kylie Treese

The American Association of University Women joins local, state, and federal legislators–as well as townships, professionals, celebrities, tv shows, parents and students alike–in the concern about BULLYING. Bullying has reached epidemic proportions. (Even Lady Gaga has launched an anti-bullying campaign.) During a recent (5/20/11) web search of the topic “Bullying” more than 43,900,000 results were identified within .12 seconds.

The facts are that more than 50% of students admit to having bullied; 47% of students admit to having been bullied; 52% of students admit to having hit someone in anger; and more than 24% of students no longer feel safe in school.

The bullying statistics have become a sorry fact of school life. Physical and emotional bulling–as well as cyber bulling–is causing long term damage to the health and well being of students. AAUW has researched and published reports on this problem. It is time to continue this discussion and to raise awareness. It is time to address this problem. Where should we start? Express your opinion in a 5 minute speech.