Illinois State University

Major: Psychology
Hometown: Auburn Gresham

“Last year, LaDaeja was one of the people who came into my room after the first announcements of a new speech club. I was struck right away with her warmth and vitality and great sense of humor. She was one of the five students who started the club and competed in our earliest tournaments.

“After a slow start in the comedy category, I could see LaDaeja’s sense of confidence rising with each performance. Her comic timing was improving, She was willing to make mistakes and learn from them, and she improved. She watched other performers and learned from them. She supported each of her teammates, and she was always upbeat. She was willing to learn a new script in under a week for her last tournament last year. She impressed the heck out of me, as she had the script down and ready on competition day.

“I am so proud of her and of her teammates who have journeyed a long way from the first meetings of speech club. Her self-confidence, her willingness to learn new skills, and her considerate, supportive personality all indicate her strong character and her kind heart. Whenever LaDaeja comes in the room, she brightens it.

“I will miss her, but I know she will bring her uplifting spirit to any new adventure that comes her way.”

— English teacher Meg Carey