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Humanities Master's Student Places Third in University 3MT Competition

Suzanne Rice
Suzanne Rice presenting her 3 Minute Thesis at the university 3MT competition on Feb. 25.
Photo by Suzanne Rice

TESOL MA student Suzanne Rice placed third in the University 3MT competition on Friday, March 11, earning herself $1000 in prize money. Rice placed first in the College of Humanities 3MT competition on Feb. 25, which qualified her to compete in the university competition.

Rice's preparation for the 3MT competition began with her mentors’ encouragement as she wrote her thesis.

“My chair, James Hartshorn (TESOL, Linguistics), has been an incredible support in helping me with my thesis and guiding me at every point in the process. Other professors, Grant Eckstein (ESL Area Coordinator, Linguistics) and Mark Tanner (TESOL Minor Coordinator, Linguistics), also encouraged me to participate in the competition. It meant a lot when they sent emails saying, ‘You should do this!’” Rice said.

Rice made her preparation for the 3MT competition a part of her daily life in order to feel completely comfortable with her presentation.

“I made a habit of saying my speech in the shower, while sitting at red lights, and walking from my car to the library every day,” said Rice. “I broke [my speech] into five chunks so I had many places to pick up from if I forgot where I was.”

Rice commented that she “would practice starting from different places in the speech” to make sure that she knew the presentation through and through.

Her preparation paid off at the College of Humanities 3MT competition even despite a small hiccup in the presentation.

“I was very surprised [that I won] because I had a moment [during the presentation] where I lost my train of thought. I wasn’t sure how long I blanked out, so I knew I had to modify the end of my speech to stay within the 3 minutes. It was a bit stressful, and I thought I would be out of the running, [so] I was very excited to win!” Rice said.

Her diligent preparation and thorough knowledge of her topic gave Rice the tools to quickly adapt to the circumstances of her presentation and still come out on top.

“Given that our college does not have a PhD program, we know that each year our MA graduate students are up against some stiff competition at the university level,” said Dean J. Scott Miller.

“It is a tribute to Suzanne’s eloquence and insights, and to the graduate education one can receive in the College of Humanities, that she would finish in the top three.”

“The competition at the university level was so impressive. Every single person had an amazing topic and delivery. I’m sure the judging was difficult because of how prepared everyone was,” Rice said.

“I’m really glad I pushed myself to participate in the 3MT,” Rice said. “I thought a lot about how to word what I wanted to say, and it helped me understand my thesis better. I [also] learned that there are things a speaker can say to help engage the audience. For example, tapping into their emotion, telling them what you are going to talk about right from the start, acknowledging what they already know about the topic and then telling them something they don’t know. It’s also important to tie the specific research to a wider-focused result.”

Rice wants to pursue a career in education. She said, “All of these things will help me be a better teacher, especially since teachers are in front of people presenting material every day.”

Congratulations to Suzanne Rice for her accomplishment in the 3MT competition.