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  • Student places third in national competition
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  • Story from The Advocate 
by Jasmine Maki

    Student places third in national competition

    Wins $1,000 for class assignment

    Hailee Palony has learned that it pays to work hard.
    Last semester, Palony – now a junior studying speech, language and hearing sciences – created a simple, yet thoughtful 30-second PSA about freedom of speech for her desktop video course.
    At the end of the course, mass communications professor Martin Grindeland recommended that students submit their work to the 2012 Freedom of Speech PSA Competition.
    “It’s an opportunity for students all over the United States to submit PSAs for use on TV stations,” Grindeland said. Students weren’t required to submit their PSAs, but Palony said she thought, “Might as well – what the heck. Just upload it and you’re good to go.”
    Palony didn’t think about the PSA again until the end of August when she received a call informing her she had won third place.
    “I honestly did not expect it at all,” Palony said. “I was honored to get it. I mean it’s like a national (competition). I called my mom and I was just laughing because I’m like ‘What are the chances?’”
    Palony received $1,000 in scholarship money, which went directly to her college tuition. Her PSA was made available to television stations across the nation for on-air distribution at the beginning of September. Stations have been encouraged to run Palony’s PSA and the other winning PSAs during National Freedom of Speech week, Oct. 22 to Oct. 28.
    “I don’t even know what to expect,” Palony said. “If I see it on TV, I’ll be in shock, and it’ll be awesome, but it hasn’t really hit me until I see it on the TV instead of just on my computer screen.”
    Palony’s PSA starts with a simple question, “What if you couldn’t?” and it depicts a strong message about the importance of freedom of speech.
    “It was well thought out and impressed the judges,” Grindeland said. “She shot her own original video and the music she chose was effective.”
    The video is simple, but it showed Palony’s understanding of the freedom of speech.
    “We get to believe what we want to believe and say what we want to say and other people don’t,” Palony said. “I think (freedom of speech) is really important to everyone. Just be grateful that we do have this freedom, and they can’t take it away from us.”
    To view Palony’s PSA and the other winning entries visit
    Nearly 200 communications students from across the country competed in the 2012 Freedom of Speech PSA contest.