Performer or speech teacher, you choose

Linda Shkreli, speech lecturer - Photo by Jessica Crawford

Linda Shkreli, speech lecturer – Photo by Jessica Crawford

Imagine shaking out your arms and legs to ease your nerves before doing a speech in class. WCC speech lecturer Linda Shkreli has many exercises to help students perform more comfortably.

Other tips are to remain in control of one’s breath, stretching and warming up.

“If you can control your breathing, you can control your nerves, your fears and your overactive mind in general,” said Shkreli.

Public speaking is a valuable tool because “it is an essential skill that translates into any industry or medium and can be adapted into interpersonal communication events,” she added.

For much of her life, Shkreli has been on a personal and professional journey of discovery.

“I found myself struggling as an undergraduate to find the discipline I was interested in … kind of picking and grabbing at theater, literature, history and political science,” said Shkreli.

“I was a big lover of language and really drawn to writing,” she added. “I found myself writing short plays about what I was learning in my international policy class just for fun.”

After Shkreli received her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, she did what most adults in their twenties do: move to New York. Shkreli independently studied playwriting and poetry at Columbia University.

She then moved back to Michigan to pursue a graduate program in English language and literature at Eastern Michigan.

“New York is a great place to get lost in,” said Shkreli. “It fueled me, but it didn’t give me everything I needed.”

At EMU, Shkreli discovered performance studies, a multidisciplinary program that explores performance as a stagecraft and a method of research.

“It wasn’t until I took that class that it brought all those things (subjects) together,” said Shkreli.

One of her professors, Annette Martin, suggested she check out Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge for its performance studies program. With no family or friends in Louisiana, Shkreli went to visit and “fell in love with it.”

After receiving her doctorate in communication studies, Shkreli taught at California State University Northridge.

She visited Hawai‘i for an academic conference and felt there was something that she could gain by living in the islands. Her research interests have included comparative spirituality, immersive learning and creative sustainability.

The timing was impeccable; she landed a position at WCC filling in for speech instructor Audrey Mendoza, who was on maternity leave.

Since then, Shkreli has gained momentum professionally. This fall, she and Mendoza are running “EthoS: Experiences in Speech” concurrently with the WCC debate tournament on Oct. 10.

In addition to performing in Honolulu’s Fringe Festival last February, which showcases experimental theater, she recently traveled to Portugal for a conference about spirituality in the 21st century with support from WCC’s staff development grant and the chancellor’s advancement fund.

To learn more about participating in the EthoS program, email Shkreli at lshkreli@hawaii.edu.

by Madison Cole, Special to Ka ‘Ohana