Toastmasters promotes leadership

Michelle Kechichian, president of the University of La Verne’s Toastmasters Club, explains the roles of the club to CAPA student Edson Chilin, who is interested in joining. / photo by Autumn Simon
Michelle Kechichian, president of the University of La Verne’s Toastmasters Club, explains the roles of the club to CAPA student Edson Chilin, who is interested in joining. / photo by Autumn Simon

Joshua Bay
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne’s chapter of the non-profit Toastmasters, which aims to improve students’ public speaking and leadership skills, has made a comeback on campus.

“What do you get when you cross bread crumbs with Bruce Lee? A toastmaster,” Vivian Medrano said as the joke master for the University of La Verne Toastmasters Club.

Humor aside, Toastmasters truly embodies the idea of mastery presented in Medrano’s joke by developing members’ communication skills.

Individuals are empowered to develop their communication and leadership skills through impromptu speaking, prepared speeches and various meeting roles.

The chapter was revived by Michelle Kechichian, an academic adviser for the College of Business and Public Management; and Rita Thakur, associate dean of the College of Business and Public Management.

Kechichian serves as the club president.

She began the meeting by welcoming guests and reading the mission statement:

“We provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.”

Kechichian then introduced the Toastmaster who facilitates the entire meeting.

In addition to the toast­master, every meeting has a joke master, a grammarian/ah-counter, a timer and a com­petent leadership evaluator.

Individuals who delivered a prepared speech tell a story of their choosing, while individuals who delivered an impromptu speech expressed their views on topics such as conservation, poverty and beauty.

Speakers were evaluated by how well they speak within their given interval of time, and how well they speak without using filler words or sounds.

At the end of each speech, members were given a minute of silence to write feedback and vote on their favorite speaker. Once every speech is presented, the best speaker is given an award. In addition to the best speaker, awards were given out to the best evaluator. The evaluator’s role is to give constructive feedback to the speaker they are assigned to.

Freshman business administration major Alliyah Garcia said that members will be given boundless opportunities to grow both personally and professionally by joining Toastmasters.

“The ability to communicate is an important skill to learn because it is necessary for many jobs,” Garcia said. “Toast­masters gives you that head start to better improve your public speaking skills.”

Garcia is currently the sergeant-at-arms and timer for Toastmasters.

Kechichian asserted that members will gain more confidence with job interviews, group meetings, and marketing themselves and their products by participating in Toastmasters.

“Some members of Toastmasters have said that they were so afraid of speaking in front of a small group of people, and now they can speak in front of hundreds of people,” Kechichian said. “You gain that confidence from Toastmasters’ fun and positive environment.”

Thakur’s goal for every La Verne student is to get a job before they even graduate. Learning how to effectively communicate and build relationships is necessary to achieve such a feat, she said.

“As a professor, I can always work on the curriculum. However, students need to develop the ability to speak and listen well on their own,” Thakur said. “Toastmasters can serve as a place for students to practice such skills.”

Toastmasters is open to all ULV students, staff and alumni. The group meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the President’s Dining Room.

Joshua Bay can be reached at


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