Speech student unable to compete due to pandemic

By Mariana Montoya

Thrill and passion describe the way 23 year old Peter Lopez-Bolanos felt toward competing for his last national competition before its cancellation due to Covid-19. He had been preparing to get to compete in a Nationals competition for 3 years. “The cancellation of all National tournaments were very devastating to me because this was my senior year as a speech competitor so my chances of competing again are very slim,” Lopez-Bolanos said.

The disappointment did not only follow Lopez-Bolanos, but also his teammates, and his coaches from the East Los Angeles College speech team, as they found out that Nationals was completely cancelled in early March.“Initially, I was distraught, and immensely heartbroken for the students because their season prematurely ended,” ELAC adjunct professor and speech team coordinator, Jedi Curva Said. 

Lopez-Bolanos originally joined the speech team when he was 19 years old, and found that it was a great outlet to be able to find his voice, after continually being inspired by motivational speakers such as Leslie Brown, Eric Thomas amongst many more. “In high school I was the kid with bad grades and was told many times by teachers that education wasn’t for me. When I joined the speech team I didn have confidence to speak in front of people, I barely had any confidence in myself period. The ELAC speech team has created something special,” Lopez-Bolanos said. 

For nationals he had an array of speeches to showcase, that really glimpsed stories from the common thread of the Mexican American lifestyle lead in America. “I had three speeches ready for the nationals tournaments, my Dramatic Interpretation, and two Duo Dramatic Interpretations.”Lopez-Bolanos said.

He described the Duo Dramatic Interpretation that he was going to present with his teammate David Reyes, based off the movie “A Better Life,” as the one he felt the most connected with. It was about a single Latinx immigrant dad raising his boy in East Los Angeles. His DI was also described as an impactful presentation by Lopez-Bolanos, that touches deeply on separation of families with the message to remove the wall that separates families visiting the Friendship Park.

The months prior to the competition he had endured a long process of preparation along with his coach. “I felt like this was my year, I had finally understood a lot about how to compete in highly competitive tournaments and I believed in and I loved my presentations,”Lopez-Bolanos said. 

For the Fall he is very excited to be transferring to California State University, Los Angeles. Professor Curva described him as a very passionate individual who knows what he knows. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he grows up to be an individual others within the same Latinx community can rely on for testimonies,” Curva said. 

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