Long Island University Announces Winners of Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contest


High School Students Awarded Monetary Prizes and Scholarships to LIU for Winning Presentations on “Why President Theodore Roosevelt Matters in the 21st Century”

Brookville, N.Y. (May 10, 2021) – The Roosevelt School at Long Island University (LIU), in partnership with the Theodore Roosevelt Association, announced today the winners of the annual Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contest. Submissions from exceptional high school students across the nation were narrowed down to the top 10 finalists, who went on to compete in the virtual finals. The finalists delivered live presentations on “Why Theodore Roosevelt Matters in the 21st Century” to a panel of four judges via Zoom on April 24, 2021.

The first-place winner is Abi Jo Wanek from North Rose-Wolcott High School in North Rose, New York, who was awarded a $25,000 scholarship to Long Island University. Second-place winner Phoenix Boggs from Edgewood Junior/Senior High School in Merritt Island, Florida was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to LIU. Third-place winner Kaitlyn Gavin from Valley Stream Central High School in Valley Stream, New York, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to LIU.

Monetary prizes for the Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contest were donated through the generosity of Robert Friedman: Grand Prize of $2,500, Second Prize of $1,000, and Third Prize of $500. The remaining finalists include Mona Shadded, Daniel Imperato, Maximilian Garibay-Deasy, Caroline Hsu, Riley Meckley, Penelope Keeble and Joseph Johnston, who have also been awarded $10,000 scholarship to LIU.

Kaitlyn Gavin
Phoenix Boggs
Abi Jo Wanek







High school juniors and seniors throughout the country were invited to compete in the prestigious Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contest, sponsored by The Roosevelt School at Long Island University and the Theodore Roosevelt Association, for a chance to win prizes and up to $25,000 in scholarships to LIU. Students were tasked with utilizing their critical thinking, leadership, and independent research skills to develop and deliver a speech on President Theodore Roosevelt.

“The leadership, poise and determination exhibited by Theodore Roosevelt taught us many lessons about American society that still ring true to this day,” said Tweed Roosevelt, chairman of the Theodore Roosevelt Institute, professor at LIU, and great-grandson of the illustrious president. “The exemplary critical thinking and research skills demonstrated by these students shows the importance of applying history to the challenges we face today. They embody TR’s belief that inspiring young people to strive for greatness gives them the skills they need to succeed.”

“All of the participants in the Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contest should be proud that they challenged themselves to present their insight and creativity on a national stage,” said Long Island University President Kimberly R. Cline. “Long Island University is committed to accelerating the exceptional and making college more accessible by awarding deserving students with millions of dollars in scholarships each year. These scholarship recipients are hard-working and incredibly bright students, and we look forward to welcoming them to the LIU community.”

The panel of four judges for the Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contest included:

Tweed Roosevelt, great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, Professor at Long Island University, and Chairman of the Theodore Roosevelt Institute.

Howard Ehrlich, Chief Executive Officer of the Theodore Roosevelt Association.

Alice L. George, Vice President of the Theodore Roosevelt Association.

Robert Friedman, judge of the Theodore Roosevelt Association’s NYC Public Speaking Contest since 1992.

Winning presentations can be viewed on the Theodore Roosevelt Institute website at  https://liu.edu/roosevelt/contest.

About the Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA)

The Theodore Roosevelt Association, headquartered in Oyster Bay, New York, is a national nonprofit and nonpartisan organization chartered by an act of Congress in 1920 to perpetuate the memory and ideals of America’s 26th President. The TRA supports new scholarship about Roosevelt, his life and times in its quarterly Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal and through conferences and presentations by leading historians and authors. The Association also supports the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fund for research grants at the American Museum of Natural History, and sponsors various programs that develop tomorrow’s leaders.

About the Theodore Roosevelt Institute (TRI)

The Theodore Roosevelt Institute, part of the Roosevelt School at Long Island University, serves as a home for research, public seminars, workshops, educational programs, and conferences about Roosevelt, his times, and contemporaries. As a hands-on learning space, the TRI showcases many of the 26th President’s writings and collections. As a forum for academic assessment and discussion of his legacy, conferences and events led by preeminent scholars offer public access to local history and an ability to connect with that history in a very real way.

About Long Island University

Long Island University, founded in 1926, continues to redefine higher education, providing high-quality academic instruction by world-class faculty. Recognized by Forbes for its emphasis on experiential learning and by the Brookings Institution for its “value added” to student outcomes, LIU offers over 250 degree programs, with a network of 270,000 alumni that includes industry leaders and entrepreneurs across the globe. Visit liu.edu for more information.