Bushra Khan

Bushra Khan, Gold medal poet

Joining the speech team
Bushra Khan won the gold medal in the poetry category of the Phi Ro Pi national community college speech competition for her piece, “Islam in America: A Poetic Program on Power, Peace and Possibility.” Khan reflects on this incredible achievement and how she joined Oakton’s competitive speech team.

“I felt like I lost my voice as an artist and poet during COVID. In one of my first zoom classes at Oakton, my professor, Dave Nadolski, told the class about the speech team. When done right, speaking is an art form and connects people. I wanted to take full advantage of this opportunity and speak about something that could impact people.”

Preparing for the Phi Ro Pi speech competition
While preparing for the competition, Khan tried to quit many times and struggled with impostor syndrome, but she leaned on the people in her life and kept practicing.

“Making a piece for a speech takes a couple of days, if not weeks. I had just a couple of hours, so I knew I couldn’t perform a piece that was clean and precise. My performance had to be authentic and come from a real place. A few people, including Dave, helped me cut the piece until it was smooth and flowed well. I started practicing alone in my room. Many performers believe you should practice in front of a mirror, but you can’t see yourself when you are on stage, so I stood in front of my wall and practiced. I am blessed to be surrounded by people that see the best in me even when I can’t. Talking about my struggles with those people encouraged me to keep going. I openly acknowledged the struggles I was facing when performing, and it helped me understand they could be improved.”

That’s right, I’m Bushra Khan!
When Khan arrived at the Phi Ro Pi speech competition in St. Louis, Missouri, she was able to talk and connect with people from different backgrounds and with many interests.

“I didn’t see many people during COVID, so I was excited to meet people from all parts of the country who were very involved in their communities and opinionated. I was in an environment that encouraged me to be passionate about my performance. I got on stage and saw the people waiting to hear what I was going to say and I was ready to be heard. I struggle with comparing myself to other people. At some point in time, I stopped believing in myself, but I think winning gold at the Phi Ro Pi speech competition was the world’s way of saying this is who you are and your journey is about uplifting people as you uplift yourself. This competition proved one of the values I stand by, every disadvantage in my life gives me the power to make it my advantage.”