Two students share first prize in 2nd GSU Story Slam


Provided photo

Andres Cornejo speaking at the First Voice Story Slam.

Lana Abdallah, Phoenix Staff Writer

On April 15, GSU held its second annual storytelling competition, First Voice Story Slam. Students and staff gathered in E-Lounge to share a night of stories that related to this year’s theme of “Lemonade.” Participants shared stories of a time when they were faced with an obstacle that they overcame; a time when life gave them lemons and they made lemonade. Last year’s event was held remotely via Zoom, making this year’s event the first in-person competition.  

The event was sponsored by the Center for Community Media and put together by GSU staff, Professor and Director of Writing Dr. Kerri Morris and Assistant Professor Dr. Novia Pagone. The event was hosted by Laura White, faculty advisor for GSU’s student art and literary journal “Reconstructed.” White opens the event by stating, 

“We are joining a tradition that is ongoing… storytelling is something humans have been doing since time immemorial,” White said as she opened the event. “We’re part of a global, historical tradition.”  

The event began with a warmup activity for the audience members. Each person wrote down an anonymous, two-sentence story on a piece of paper that was read out loud by the host. As everyone began to get more comfortable, it was time for the competition to begin.  

After each student shared their stories at the podium, a vote was cast for the top three cash prize winners. Second place went to Claude Martinez for his story about “Lemonade” in Slovakia.  First place was a tie between Nuha Abdessalam for her story about a rescue dog named Dolly and Andres Cornejo for his story on his academic journey. Each student brought their personal experiences to the forefront, sharing and exploring a battle where they prevailed.  

When asked about the event, Cornejo said: “It was great to have the GSU community come out to the story slam. I enjoy the opportunity for everyone to share their artistic vision through their stories… I encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and consider sharing these stories.” 

Martinez stated: “Being a part of the event was a wonderful experience. Speaking to faculty, staff, and students about a story from my life, meant a lot.”  

First Place winners took home $250, and second place received $150. Contestants and audience members were encouraged to speak with the staff in the Center for Community Media with any questions or interest in becoming a future contestant. Opportunities to work with coaches to hone their stories are available in preparation for next year’s event.  

“What’s nice about storytelling is it can be an intimate time between you and friends and creates a connection with people,” Abdessalam said. “GSU gave us a chance to bond with others and express ourselves with this event, and I’m happy to have been a part of it.”   

More information about the event and participation, contact Professor Pagone or Professor Morris. 

[email protected] 

[email protected]