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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

WoCo Speaks: student led initiative at Wofford

Stage+in+Leonard+Auditoriu%2C%2C+in+Old+Main%2C+where+WoCo+Speaks+events+will+be+held.+Photo+by+Anna+Lee+Hoffman
Stage in Leonard Auditoriu,, in Old Main, where WoCo Speaks events will be held. Photo by Anna Lee Hoffman

Jordan Willey starts club modeled after Ted Talk

Jordan Willey ‘23 has been active in many extracurriculars during his Wofford career. He recently decided to initiate a new club at Wofford, which will be called “WoCo Speaks.” 

WoCo Speaks is going to be what Willey described as “an engaging student speaker series”. 

Willey envisions the student speakers will highlight their triumphs and tribulations, but also their resilience during their Wofford career. The events will be organized in a similar fashion to Ted Talks. Their events will be held live on campus, either in Leonard Auditorium or McMillan Theater. 

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The hope is that Woco Speaks events would take place once a month. The goal for the events is for students to share their vulnerabilities in a cathartic way. This would provide a space to share hardships, as well as overcoming them, building community. 

Willey plans on reaching out to The Resilience Project at Wofford to see if their projects can overlap and share resources. Woco Speaks and The Resilience Project have similar goals, but different approaches. 

Willey said the main goal for WoCo Speaks as a Wofford initiative would be “to have a routine opportunity that encourages students to become public speakers and build connections among one another.”

Furthermore, in the future Willey hopes to have a cycle of speakers that represent WoCo Speaks and are involved in other organizations on campus. For example, he envisions having speakers attend freshman First-Year-Inquiry (FYI) classes, board meetings or Campus Union meetings to share stories, give motivational talks and encourage public speaking. 

WoCo Speaks will also give students who are interested in public speaking an opportunity to exercise their speaking abilities. Willey himself was involved in debate club before college and enjoys the public speaking aspect. WoCo Speaks would give students an outlet to practice this skill.

Willey is working alongside Professor Carol Wilson, the club sponsor, and Anna Lee Hoffman ‘23, social media director. Hoffman is working on creating an Instagram page and a website. These outlets will help promote the club but also serve as an outlet to livestream the Woco Speak events. 

For the first events, Willey envisions that they will be solely for the Wofford community. This way, students learn that this will be an intimate, safe space. After WoCo Speaks establishes itself as an organization on campus and has support, the ultimate goal is to host a TedX event and welcome WoCo Speaks to the greater Spartanburg community. 

The first WoCo Speaks event will feature student body president, Dylan Goshorn ‘22. 

“My talk will focus on my struggles of having a speech impediment and how that has impacted my life,” Goshorn said. “It is important for students to share and learn from their lived experiences. I am thrilled that this new organization will lift student voices and bring a greater sense of community to Wofford.”

As Wofford College is a small institution, there is a worry that student speakers may find it difficult to stand and be vulnerable to a wide community. 

To this concern, Willey said that speakers will be encouraged to share only what they wish to. He said there does not need to be a focus on difficult aspects of a student’s story, but they are encouraged to share how they have overcome their challenges.  

Overall, Willey said he and his team hope to “foster a community that is supportive and positive.” The first WoCo Speaks event is to take place on Wednesday, Oct. 27. 

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