Zuva Speaks for the State in PESA Competition

NEWS 18 Aug 2021

Haileybury student, Zuva Goverwa, will represent Victoria in the upcoming national finals of the VCAA Plain English Speaking Awards.

Ms Goverwa beat off stiff competition from students across the state to win the Victorian title this month. She is now preparing for the Finals in September.

News - PESA Competition
Year 12 student, Zuva Goverwa, wins State PESA Competition


The PESA is a public-speaking competition for students aged 15 to 18-years-old designed to help students build self-confidence and extend their oral communication skills, speech writing and research experience.

Judges were impressed by Ms Goverwa’s speech, called ‘Seen And Not Heard’, that explored a frustration she says is shared by many of her peers.

“I wanted to highlight how disproportionate our intelligence as a generation is to how much society is willing to listen to us,” she says.

“I hoped to communicate that this issue is not only unfair, given that we are the ones who will inherit the world we are trying to change, but it’s ultimately dangerous to the progression of society as it enables apathy.”

Ms Goverwa followed up her winning prepared speech with an impromptu speech on ‘last minute decisions.’

“Initially, due to a mix of fear and a busy timetable, I’d been tossing up whether or not to compete in the first round of heats. But, the night before the competition, I decided to take the leap of faith and confirm my entry, never imagining I’d make it this far,” she says.

“So, I based my impromptu speech on the idea of expanding your comfort zone through spontaneity and the opportunities you allow yourself when you do.”

Due to lockdowns, Ms Goverwa discovered she was the Victorian winner and would represent her state during a final online event.

“Considering the calibre of everyone who spoke, and the diversity and ingenuity of the speech topics, I truly was not expecting to win,” she says.

“I had made complete peace with the idea of not placing. Needless to say, my reaction to winning was one of absolute shock! Now with the National Final, the stakes are definitely high and, despite the nerves, I’m excited to hear the speeches from students in other states.”

Haileybury Head of English – Senior School, Merinda Bermingham, says Ms Goverwa’s achievement is an ‘outstanding accomplishment’.

“I know that Zuva cares deeply about the world and the underlying narratives that shape our society. She empathises deeply and reads widely and an achievement of this calibre takes a marriage of academic prowess and heart,” says Ms Bermingham.

“Zuva’s genuine care for her subject and social justice and humanity made for an especially powerful delivery. Zuva has made all of us at Haileybury exceptionally proud.”