Margaret Alvine – Winner, Best College Speech

Margaret Alvine is a 19-year-old Freshman at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego, majoring in Communications Media with an emphasis in Graphic Design.

A proud alum of the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association, Margaret enjoys public speaking and performing. Last year, her speech Historical Amnesia, on the importance of learning from history, placed 9th in the NCFCA Region II Championships.

The French Revolution and its similarities and differences from the American Revolution have always interested her, and the First Amendment Rights gave her an interesting way to explore why these two supposedly similar revolutions had such different outcomes. In her senior year of high school, her essay on Religious Freedom won Constituting America’s high school essay contest. She is so excited to have won again and have more opportunities to work with Constituting America.

In her spare time, Margaret writes apologetics pieces (explanations of Catholic beliefs) for the Marian Ministry at JPCatholic, and is involved with Swing Dance Club, Photography Club, Improv Team, and Sketch Comedy Club. She enjoys singing, dancing, and discussing books, life, and work with friends.

Watch Margaret’s Winning Speech Below:

Our Interview With Margaret

Was this the first time you entered the contest?
No. I also entered in 2020, as a high schooler.

How did you hear about the contest?
Originally, I heard about it on a scholarship search website.

What inspired your work?
I have always been interested in why the French Revolution and American Revolution were so very different, despite their proclaimed identical goals of liberty. Last year, I had just taken AP European History, and been bemoaning how complex and difficult the French Revolution was to study due to the constant heaving revolutions. And of course, isn’t it wonderfully ironic that the French Revolution began as a revolution against a monarch and ended in a dictatorship?

What did you learn while creating your entry?
I was able to delve a lot more into why the two revolutions were so very different, which I really enjoyed. I discovered a lot more details about specific incidents of lack of freedom in the French Revolution. Many history books try to take a much more positive view to the French Revolution, especially their attitude towards reason and religion, so it was good to research more and discover what their attitude and actions truly were, and why there was such a period of constant upheaval.

How do you plan to spread the word this year to your peers about the importance of the U.S Constitution?
By encouraging my friends to vote, and to use their rights. Also by encouraging them to create an entry for the Constituting America Contest!

How do your friends respond to history or talking about the Constitution?
There’s a lot of variety among my friends, but many of them enjoy discussing both. Some of my friends lean more towards random history facts, while some lean towards active engagement to raise awareness about certain constitutional rights. I am also glad to have met so many people through Constituting America who also love discussing history and the Constitution!

What do you love about U.S. History and the forming of our government?
I love that the founders were able to take human weakness into account and factor it into their plan, while at the same time keeping an optimistic outlook on the future. It’s also nothing short of amazing that all of these great minds with such strong and often opposing viewpoints were able to work together like they did.

Which U.S. historical site would you like to visit?
Although I am aware that Longfellow’s poem Paul Revere’s Ride is a romanticization, it really works. It has remained one of my favorite poems since I was little, and it would be amazing to see the places mentioned in the poem.

Which American historical figure is most influential/inspirational to you?
I find it really inspiring that George Washington was able to hold the Founding Fathers together the way he did. It goes to show that your character really is more important than any skills you may or may not have— although he was certainly a very skilled man as well!

Who is your greatest role model?
One person who I draw from a lot is the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He was able to be a Catholic and a Supreme Court Justice without sacrificing either, and he showed the importance of working with people and making friends through his relationships with people such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who he definitely disagreed with in many cases.

What in your life are you most passionate about?
Finding truth, goodness, and beauty, and sharing them with others.

How do you spend your free time?
Singing or listening to folk songs, dancing (I love Contra and Swing), learning ASL, drawing or writing, and of course reading. Also playing at the park, or playing card games with my friends.

What are your plans for the future?
For the immediate future, I will keep working towards my degree. After I graduate, I hope to work for a nonprofit dedicated to helping people, or in education.

If you could do one super impactful thing to help people, what would it be?
I would like to create places that preserve and encourage folk dance, music, and arts and crafts, and help to foster community. I think it’s really sad that often we don’t know or care who lives right next to us.

Why is the Constitution relevant today?
Well, for starters, it is still the basis of our government! If for no other reason, it’s relevant and it matters because it forms the basis for our laws and systems. Of course, I think it matters still more because it provides a system of checks and balances which, annoying as we may find them, help to protect our rights.

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