From left, Shaina Earwin, Abby Alvarado-Cruz, Robert Campbell and Alaina Spiers

Four students championed equality - of genders, races and sexes - during College of the Mainland's second annual Words That Changed History Contest.

"The spoken word carries so much power and historical importance," said Gilchrist White. "COM's Quality Enhancement Plan emphasizes oral communication and aims to encourage students to present in public, and this contest gives them an opportunity to do that."

Alaina Spiers, of League City, passionately presented an ancient historical speech, Jesus' sermon on the beatitudes. Robert Campbell, of Dickinson, reprised Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address on racial equity such quotes as "With malice toward none, with charity for all ... let us strive on to finish the work we are in."

"I always loved Abraham Lincoln," said Campbell, a COM Collegiate High School student. "I gained experience doing his speech."

Abby Alvarado-Cruz gave Hillary Clinton's speech on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights delivered Dec. 6, 2011, to the United Nations.

"I saw it online and it inspired me," said Alvarado-Cruz.

Shaina Erwin, of Dickinson, similarly found inspiration online in Emma Watson's Sept. 20 UN speech announcing the HeForShe Campaign for gender equality.

"I remember watching the video over and over, I was completely mesmerized by her words. When I heard about the speech competition, I immediately knew I wanted to do an interpretation of Emma's speech. Though the speech itself was delivered only a few months ago, the issue has been an ongoing battle for centuries," said Erwin.

"The more I (practiced) it, the more it became my voice saying the words. While preparing for the speech I learned how to find my own voice, even though the words were not my own."