Dominique Ruedaflores, an incoming freshman at Ramona Convent Secondary School and a recent eighth grade graduate from Monterey Highlands Elementary School in Monterey Park, won a total of $17,500 in college scholarships from the 2018 Optimist International Oratory Contest.   

This year’s Optimist International Oratory contest theme was, “Where Are My Roots of Optimism?” Ruedaflores discussed how she overcame a speech impediment after many years of therapy. She attributed a great deal of her success to the love and support she received from her parents.

Ruedaflores with her mother, Sofiean Vargas, and her father, Manuel Ruedaflores, at the Optimist International Competition. (PHOTO COURTESY RAMONA CONVENT SECONDARY SCHOOL)

In her speech, she attributed the characteristics of the Chinese zodiac animals to her family members based on their birth year, which led to her conclusion that her parents are the roots of her optimism. Ruedaflores’ success stems from dedication and hard work, including 7:00 a.m. practices on weekdays and weekends.  

Ruedaflores came in second place at the World Competition, held at St. Louis University in Missouri on June 29, 2018. To qualify for the World Competition, she won the Los Angeles Monterey Park Optimist Club Oratory Contest in April, and then took first place in the Optimist International Pacific Southeast District competition, along with a $2,500 scholarship. From there, she competed in the West Coast Regional division, winning first place and earning her a spot in the World Competition.

Ruedaflores’ win at the Optimist International Oratory competitions comes on the heels of her first place win at California’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) 2017 section and state competitions in the Introduction to Public Speaking competition category held in Westlake Village and Ontario, respectively, in 2017 when she was a seventh grader at Monterey Highlands.