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TJC professor teaches students skills for competitive edge

Tyler Junior College professor Joan Andrews may not pace the sidelines of a sports field or have a whistle around her neck, but she is known for being a winning coach.

As a TJC professor, Andrews coaches students on the College’s national award-winning speech and debate team, but also takes time each year to work with students at her alma mater, the University of Mississippi, or “Ole Miss.” Andrews can certainly relate to students at both institutions as she received her associate degree from TJC before continuing her education at Ole Miss.

For the past 15 years, Ole Miss has hosted the “Speaker’s Edge,” a two-week program for approximately 120 graduate students in MBA and accountancy programs. According to the Speaker’s Edge website, “Ole Miss students spend a week and a half working with world-class communication coaches, discovering the strengths and weaknesses of their own personal style.”

After almost two weeks of preparation and intensive coaching by national alumni professionals such as Andrews, students complete in three different presentations before a panel of judges made up of local business professionals. The three categories include Market Place Pitch, Team Pitch and Ethical Dilemma. A winner is selected in each event and, from those, an overall champion is named to receive a $1,000 prize.

As a Speaker’s Edge coach, Andrews teaches Ole Miss graduate students many of the skills she instils in her TJC students to help them be competitive. “Even if you are making an A in one of these elite graduate programs, you have to have a competitive edge to get the job. You have to have strong communication skills including representing your ideas confidently, acting quickly on your feet, and effectively handling competitive pressure as an individual and team member.”

Andrews explained that in the TJC speech and debate program, “We push students to excel and rise to the occasion – to be the best in the room. These skills can really have an impact on their futures.”

She added that bringing speech and debate skills to the students definitely gives them an extra edge. “That’s really what it does: it teaches you the speaker’s edge and gives you an advantage for your entire professional career.”

Andrews is keenly aware that she is teaching students meaningful communications skills they can use the rest of their lives. She said, “It is amazing to me to see the power of what I do every day to help, and how it can impact people to be successful and communicate effectively.”

For information on TJC’s speech and debate program, go to TJC.edu/speech.

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