Chicago Public Speaking Challenge

Urban Alliance Chicago hosted its first annual culminating event, the Public Speaking Challenge, at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business on August 7, 2013. 63 Interns arrived at the University of Chicago’s business school, dressed professionally and ready to meet the challenge of delivering their first formal PowerPoint presentation to a large and daunting audience. The audience included local business leaders, mentors, school counselors, funders, Urban Alliance Board members, and other stakeholders, 30 of whom judged the Interns’ presentations on content, diction, and professional presentation.  In an effort to incentivize hard work and to communicate to the youth that success in the professional world is merit-based,  Urban Alliance awards a $100 bonus to Interns earning a score of 80% or higher on their presentations.  Presentations focus on the Intern’s experience with Urban Alliance over the program year:  this allows the Interns to be the subject matter experts, reporting on such information as their job site’s mission, their mentor’s path to success, what they learned, challenges, accomplishments, and how their expectations for a professional workplace differed from the reality of their experience.  Interns also presented their post-secondary plans.


Chicago Bulls Guard, Jimmy Butler, delivered an outstanding message to our interns and stakeholders at the Public Speaking Challenge. He spoke about the importance of giving back to others by giving of one’s time and talent.  Mr. Butler shared stories about his career as a fierce competitor, both on and off the court, reminding our Interns that people remember you more for your character than for the things you say. The civic-minded Bulls guard takes part in numerous community events throughout the year and he graciously signed autographs and posed for photos with our Interns.


UA Chicago Intern Ximena Cortez demonstrated true commitment to achieving excellence in her education and at her job site, Nuveen. With a 3.92 GPA, she was accepted to several schools in the Chicago region. Many schools offered institutional grants, but she was well short of closing the gap on her financial need. With perseverance, both Ximena and her Program Coordinator, Ricardo Hernandez, were able to find the resources to close the financial gap that would have otherwise prevented her from attending her top choice school. This combination of hard work, dedication, and positive attitude earned her the Intern of the Year award. After receiving the award, she gave a powerful speech that moved many to tears showing the positive impact of Urban Alliance on our youth. Ximena will be attending Aurora University where she will study Computer Science.


Johanna Calva’s internship at Hyatt was filled with enriching experiences. Among her biggest responsibilities was finding nutritional information for the top Hyatt menu items and working to reduce the sodium, sugar, and calorie content of these items by 20% for the Partnership for Healthier America. In her presentation, she said one of the highlights of her experience was speaking with prestigious chefs from South American countries. One chef in particular stood out because of his sincere interest in wanting to get to know more about Johanna and her experience. She was surprised that a big-name chef took the time to converse with and learn about her. She now has plans to one day open a pastry business. To prepare for this endeavor, Johanna will be attending Harold Washington College this fall where she will study Business.


*UA Chicago is proud to partner with the Chicago Bulls. They generously hosted a Let’s Move workshop at their Berto Center training facility for all of our Interns and staff in March of 2013.