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Winning isn’t everything

Dulce Perez, a sophomore at Hoover High, has made her way to the Rotary Club district finals on the strength of her speech about the motives of competition.

Dulce Perez, a sophomore in the Cardinals Interact Program,  made her way to the Rotary Club district finals on the strength of her speech about the motives of competition.

In an ironic twist, a Hoover High School sophomore is competing to be the best while making the case that competition can be self-destructive. Dulce Perez’s five-minute address at the Rotary Four-Way Speech Contest has been gaining accolades as she’s placed first in her last two competitions leading up to the district finals. Along the way her speech on competition has earned her more than $500.

Dulce’s theme was adapted from a recent English essay she wrote that was inspired by her personal experience growing up in Honduras and moving to the United States only 16 months ago with her mom and younger brother to live with her grandmother in City Heights.

Dulce says in Honduras she was pushed to excel at everything because there aren’t many opportunities. She became an academic high achiever, earning a private school scholarship because in her words, “public school wasn’t any good.”

Upon attending Hoover her freshman year, she soon felt a high degree of desire to fit in. She said she wasn’t use to teenager slang and was reluctant to speak to her peers because she was afraid of being an outcast.

As she began walking around campus looking for acceptance she realized that even though she likes art, she is not an “art kid.” Even though she likes sports, she is not “a jock.” She likes rock music but doesn’t like to dress like a rocker.

She just wanted to be herself.

This was Dulce’s background as she began thinking about writing her English essay and speech.

She identified the self-destructive part of why some people compete.

“Am I doing this because I want to, or because I am expected to?” Dulce thought to herself. “You forget about what you want and instead think about what someone else wants.”

In her speech she acknowledges that competition pushes you to do your best. However, it becomes a negative if all you focus on is “winning and winning and winning.”

Even though she has been winning, Dulce says the real reason she is competing is “because I want others to feel good about themselves.”

She hopes her speech might change someone’s thoughts. “Words are so powerful. They change the way you think, feel, and act. They can change everything.”

Originally Dulce hoped the speech competition would help her language skills and improve her self confidence. Her success has been a surprise.

“I was shocked. I didn’t think I would accomplish this. I always doubt myself.”

Dulce has been supported along the way by her Cardinals Interact leaders and Downtown Rotary Club 33, her sponsoring club.

After high school Dulce wants to pursue either engineering or writing. She also wants to be a human rights activist.

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