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ARPC Airmen develop speaking prowess, earn awards

The four Airmen from the Air Reserve Personnel Center who are participating in the Defenders of Speech team at Buckley Air Force Base: Staff Sgt. Letitia Edwards ARPC loan repayment and stipend program NCO in charge; Staff Sgt. Zakia Walker, ARPC personnel systems manager; Staff Sgt. Jennifer Williams, ARPC officer accessions NCO in charge, and Tech. Sgt. Richard Grybos, ARPC Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System project office technician, pose for a photo May 10, 2012, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Quinn Jacobson)

The four Airmen from the Air Reserve Personnel Center who are participating in the Defenders of Speech team at Buckley Air Force Base: Staff Sgt. Letitia Edwards ARPC loan repayment and stipend program NCO in charge; Staff Sgt. Zakia Walker, ARPC personnel systems manager; Staff Sgt. Jennifer Williams, ARPC officer accessions NCO in charge, and Tech. Sgt. Richard Grybos, ARPC Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System project office technician, pose for a photo May 10, 2012, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Quinn Jacobson)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- During the last two months, four members from the Air Reserve Personnel Center have taken the initiative to develop their speaking and leadership skills by participating in the Defenders of Speech Toastmasters team located on Buckley.

Toastmasters International currently has more than 270,000 members who attend one of 13,000 clubs, which are part of a global network of meeting locations in 116 countries.

ARPC's service members include Tech. Sgt. Zakia Walker, ARPC personnel systems manager, Tech. Sgt. Richard Grybos, ARPC Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System project office technician, Staff Sgt. Jennifer Williams, ARPC officer accessions NCO in charge, and Staff Sgt. Letitia Edwards, ARPC loan repayment and stipend program NCO in charge .

Williams, an 11-year Air Force veteran with more than two years at ARPC, has two trophies and three ribbons to show for her speeches. The Edna, Texas native, started her winning streak at a regular Toastmaster's meeting by delivering a "table topic" speech against four other members. A table topic is a random question asked of a speaker who is given no more than two minutes to answer it with no preparation. This impromptu method challenges the speakers to think on their feet.

Winning against her peers qualified the Williams to compete in the Division 6 Area Table Topics Contest where she won first place.

"When I did the first table top speech, it was to challenge myself, to get my feet wet doing something off the top of my head," she said. "The division prize was only my second impromptu speech."

She said the topic that garnered her the most success was, "If you could have it all or know it all, which one would you choose and why?"

In addition, Williams also won a Table Topic and a Best Speech ribbon for her Introduction speech.

Williams is modest when she discusses her Toastmaster's career.

"I had only been in the program for less than a month and I was up against people who had been in Toastmasters for years. So when I took first place, I was both shocked and excited," she said.

The table top contest allowed Williams to move on to the Denver Division Table Topics where she won second place.

Williams will next attend the District 26 Spring Conference May 19, 2012 in Loveland, Colo., as a backup to represent the Denver Division in the district competition. In all, there are about 36 different Toastmasters clubs Denver-wide who send their best speakers to the competitions.

Edwards, who has been at ARPC for two of her 10 years in uniform, won a ribbon for Best Table Topic.

"Toastmasters is a great opportunity to improve my public speaking skills. It gives me the tools I need to become a more confident speaker," the Meridian, Miss., native said. Edwards pointed out that while some people may be afraid to face their fears of public speaking, they can rest assured they won't be alone.

"This group shares the common goal of improving communication and leadership skills," Edwards said. "Improving those skills is very important. No matter where your career path takes you, there will be times to speak, brief and share with others."

Williams said she'd like encourage others to join their speech team and take a chance on the unknown. "Toastmasters is for those people who want to practice public speaking and overcome the anxiety associated with it," she said, "I've just started on this journey, and I've learned you can't be afraid because you never know what you're good at until you go do it."