By Courtney Jackson
Communications 105 Fundamentals of Public Speaking is one of the most popular courses at COC. It is also one of the most hated.
“Speech class,” as it is commonly referred to, focuses on the development of informative and persuasive speeches. Other skills learned in the class include organization, research and presentation skills.
Although for Hunting F. Grey (not his real name) not having to take speech class would be a huge
relief because he suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder.
Grey is a math major in his second year at COC and would like to transfer to California State University, Northridge. Taking speech is apart of the general education path to transferring to a CSU so Grey has no choice but to enroll in the course to transfer to CSUN.
“Doing this is like going into a warzone for me,” he said. “Everyone I know keeps saying to get over it but it’s not easy, they’re not in my body so they don’t know.”
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), Social Anxiety Disorder affects 15 million people in the United States, which is about 6.8% of the population.
Grey has a history of school refusal beginning in elementary school, where he would fake being sick so he wouldn’t have to be in class with “a bunch of humans around me.”
Victoria Leonard, Department Chair of Communication Studies at COC has taught here for 28 years and said that the worst case she’s had was a female student who would cry everyday as a result of her anxiety.
“The issue with the anxiety is that it is really internal so you physiologically feel it but it doesn’t show to everybody the way that you think it does,” Leonard said.
“I think that students think they look a lot worse than they actually do.”
Therefore, the fear of public speaking may not be the action itself, but the fear of being criticized by peers.
“I can talk perfectly fine when I’m in front of the mirror but more than two people in a room will set me off,” Grey said.
Grey is close to completing his second year at COC and as time goes away so does the classes he has to take to transfer to CSUN, leaving speech as the last few on the list.
Becoming a math teacher is a fantasy of Grey’s because the definition of a fantasy is imagining things that are not likely to happen. “I’m in pretty deep,” Grey said of his progress towards an associate’s degree. “If I back out it will be a waste I guess.”
According to Kyle Golveo, who attended COC and graduated with an associate’s degree in communication studies, instead of hiding anxiety students should acknowledge it.
“It is ultimately up to the students to make the first move in stepping out of their comfort zone,” Golveo said, “Just do it.”
There are several benefits to just simply taking one speech class and it’s not just fulfilling your GE requirements.
“I think that one major benefit is that even if you don’t realize it in the moment that it ends up giving you the confidence to, one get up in front of people but also to lean to frame your thoughts,” Professor Leonard said.
Hunting Grey knows how crucial taking communications 105 is and would like to attempt it in the fall 2016 semester, saying that it is a matter of time that he does it.
“DJ Khaled has those keys of success on snapchat and I try to relax myself by saying ‘communication is a key to success’,” Grey said.
“Some people may say it sounds weird but it helps, so I like it.”