Novo Toastmasters celebrate big wins in area competitions

By Shane Donglasan

New College Toastmasters Club president Zulfiia Tursunova, left, and Evan Hunter have earned a number of awards this semester.
New College Toastmasters Club president Zulfiia Tursunova, left, and Evan Hunter have earned a number of awards this semester.

The New College Toastmasters Club is toasting to another successful semester of competition wins. The organization is a part of Toastmasters International, a nonprofit that teaches public speaking and leadership skills throughout its worldwide network of clubs.

First-year Evan Hunter placed first in the International Speech category for Area 53, which is made up of five clubs around the Sarasota-Bradenton area. Hunter moved on to the Division E contest, where he also placed first out of representatives from 17 other clubs.

He prepared a five- to seven-minute speech about how language influences our political culture.

“I talked specifically in my speech about Brexit and how we’re not talking about political issues in a way that allows us to actually solve problems,” Hunter said. “Instead, we’re using buzz words and phrases that don’t mean very much.”

Throughout high school, Hunter was an active member of his debate team and participated in public speaking events, and Toastmasters has given him an outlet to continue honing his communication skills.

“It’s been a fun experience and a really great way to meet people,” he added.

New College Toastmasters president and fourth-year student Zulfiia Tursunova was new to public speaking when she first joined the club two years ago.

“I’m not a native [English] speaker and I knew I wanted to improve my public speaking,” said Tursunova. “I was welcomed so warmly during that first meeting. I won the table topics contest, and it inspired me to come back and improve my skills.”

Since joining Toastmasters, she has earned Advanced Leadership and Advanced Communication awards and a Trippe Crown Award along with club founder Jennifer Lin. Only 0.5 percent of Toastmasters International members receive a Trippe Crown award globally.

“I’ve never missed a meeting since joining Toastmasters,” Tursunova said. “It’s a great resource for people studying any subject. You need to be able to communicate effectively anywhere you go, and Toastmasters gives you so many tools to be a good speaker.”

– Shane Donglasan is the marketing writer/project coordinator at New College of Florida.

NCF Toastmasters Club Results for Spring 2019 Contests:

Club Level:

Internationals Speech (Prepared Speech) Winners:

1st place: Evan Hunter
2nd place: Zulfiia Tursunova

Table Topics (Impromptu Speech) Winners:

1st place: Zulfiia Tursunova
2nd place: Evan Hunter
3rd place: Erika Calle

Area 53 Level:

1st place in International Speech category (only 1st place winners advance to Division Contest): Evan Hunter

Division E Level:

1st place: Evan Hunter

Advanced Leadership and Advanced Communication Awards:

Jas Marie Prophet (winner of Area Contest last year): Advanced Leader Bronze

Zulfiia Tursunova: Advanced Leader Bronze, Advanced Communicator Silver, and Advanced Communicator Gold.


Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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