Students Rachel Glembocki and Ethan Bortz return to the stage

By Kara Armstrong

Hosted by the KU Communication Studies Department, Ignite is a public speaking event where participants make a five-minute speech on any topic, using a presentation that advances automatically.

International Ignite logo
Photo Credit: Dr. Emily Cripe

The Fall 2023 event was held on the evening of Oct. 4.

This semester’s Ignite event had expected eleven speakers, but only five were able to attend due to illness. Dr. Emily Cripe, the event’s organizer, stepped in at the last minute, bringing the number of speakers to six. Despite these setbacks, the event persevered. 

The event opened with student Ethan Bortz’s presentation entitled “Gum: Specifically Mint Gum.” Bortz revealed the four pillars of finding the perfect chewing gum: “tasteability, chewability, longevity, and bubbability.” He also educated the audience on the only gum to successfully incorporate all four characteristics: Trident. 

Bortz spoke at last semester’s Ignite event with a presentation about apples. “My presentation was very well received,” he said of his first presentation. “I felt like I had to go again. As well as that, I am always looking to improve my public speaking skills and confidence.”

He stated that while this Ignite event didn’t have as many speakers, the overall production quality was higher. Cinema, Television and Media Production students set up a stage with lighting and multiple camera angles.

The subsequent presentations tackled topics such as textile-making, weightlifting, environmentally-friendly living, and life lessons from penguins. 

Student Rachel Glembocki covered an especially meaningful topic in her presentation “Family Ties,” which was about growing up in an adopted family. Her presentation was inspired by the seemingly mundane icebreaker, “If you could change your name, what would it be and why?” 

Glembocki stated that the hardest part of preparing her presentation was doing her topic justice. She was still working on her presentation two days before the event, trying to get everything perfect. “Being adopted is a central part of my identity and I didn’t want to mess it up,” she said.

Glembocki, like Bortz, first spoke at last semester’s Ignite and also preferred this semester’s Ignite. For Glembocki, it was more than just production quality. Her siblings, future sister-in-law and nephew surprised her by showing their support in-person. “Telling people about my experience growing up and then going to hold my brother’s baby right after was a full circle moment that I won’t forget,” she said.

Both Bortz and Glembocki advised students considering presenting to remember that there is no pressure to be perfect. “Don’t let worrying about screwing up prevent you from participating,” Bortz said. 

Furthermore, Bortz advised potential speakers to keep Ignite’s presentation formatting requirements in mind. “You only have five minutes to give a speech; you need to keep it focused and snappy,” he said.

But, overall, “the most important thing is that you’re having fun,” said Glembocki. 
Anyone interested in participating in next semester’s Ignite should contact Dr. Cripe at The event is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 28.


%d bloggers like this: