3 Minutes. 1 Slide. Your Work.

Thank you to everyone who made our inaugural year such a success! The event was only made possible by the contributions of our amazing participants, judges, and donor.

Please read this news article about our 2020 event and download The Big Pitch 2020 Program for more information.

Congratulations to our Big Pitch 2020 winners!

1st Place

Vinh Tran, Education, “Shortest Way Home: Developing an Interstate Policy Exchange Framework for K-12 Math and Science Education

Vinh Q. Tran was born in Japan but spent most of his childhood in Vietnam. After high school, he enrolled at Soka University of America and became a member of the class of 2015. As an undergraduate, he chose Environmental Sciences as his concentration; specifically, his research topic was the genetic compositions of methane-producing microbes (methanogens) in urban freshwater wetlands. However, he decided to shift his academic focus to Education Policy as a graduate student; the change was partially due to the influence of The West Wing TV show. His overarching research interest is identifying the most suitable K-12 STEM Education policies and practices for each US state/territory. As a Ph.D. Candidate of the SES Department at CGU, he aims to create the foundation for his vision by developing a mechanism for effective K-12 STEM Education policy transfer, detailed in his upcoming dissertation. Tran is also (technically) a certified bartender. 

2nd Place & Audience’s Winner

Amber Kea-Edwards, Psychology, “Development or Discrimination?: An Intersectional Lens on Multi-Source Feedback

Amber Kea-Edwards is a Ph.D. candidate in Positive Organizational Psychology at Claremont Graduate University. Her research interest includes race, leader identity, and leader development. As a research associate at LeAD Labs, she has presented at both national and international conferences and has a publication in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies. She currently teaches organizational behavior at California State Polytechnical University, Pomona in the school of Management and Human Resources.

3rd Place

Katrina Denman, History, “Angels “Leaning In”: Uncovering Women’s Roles in Academic History

Katrina Denman is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern European History. Her dissertation focuses on professional women historians in Victorian and Edwardian England, as well as the development of history as an academic discipline in the U.K.  Her other research interests include women in the history of science and the experiences of women of color in Victorian Britain. She received her M.A. in History and Archival Studies from CGU in 2009 and has a background in special collections, including as a manuscripts archivist at the Huntington Library. She is currently a consultant and writing fellow at CGU’s Center for Writing & Rhetoric and a writing tutor at Harvey Mudd College. When not trying to finish her dissertation, she is usually photographing animals, both wild and domestic. She would like to particularly thank her dogs, Evie and Phineas, for refraining from barking for three minutes during the making of her competition recoding.

Congratulations to all of our finalists!

Amanda Castillo, Education, “Strengthening Teacher Evaluation Systems in K-12 Public Education

Amanda Castillo graduated from USC with a BA in Theatre and Loyola Marymount with an MA in Education. She began her teaching career as a 2006 Teach for America corps member and was placed in a high school charter school where she taught 10th and 11th grade English. She was also a non-profit director with organizations College Track and Citizen Schools in which she managed instructors and other staff working to support student achievement. Her focus on instructional coaching was prompted by her experience as a Dean of Students at Achievement First and also Teach for America, New Jersey; both roles required intensive coaching of new teachers, facilitating formal teacher evaluation and turning around struggling classrooms. Now a PhD candidate, she hopes to focus her research on building teacher skill, particularly in classroom management and culture.

Kerri Dean, History, “(re)Imagining the Evergreen

Kerri Dean is currently a PhD candidate in history at Claremont Graduate University, where she also earned her master’s degree in 2015. Her focus is in American history, environmental history, and museum studies. Her dissertation explores the history of the Christmas tree in American culture. Her M.A. thesis, Christmas Lights in America: The Intersections of a Modern Christmas, American Culture, and Postwar Suburbia, tells the history of lights while using them as lens to American suburban history. Her passion for holiday history provides unique opportunities for creativity in a niche field. She has received recognition for her research through grants and interviews with the New York Times and Time magazine. For over five years she worked for CGU’s marketing and communication team and held various leadership roles for student organizations. Kerri is currently an Exhibitions Assistant and Project Manager at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Tamar Salibian, Cultural Studies, “Reading Reality TV: Publicizing, Promoting, and Commodifying the Self

Tamar Salibian is a Media Studies PhD candidate in the Cultural Studies program at Claremont Graduate University. Her area of concentration is reality TV. Tamar received her BFA in Photography from Massachusetts College of Art and her MFA in Film/Video from California Institute of the Arts. After film school, she worked in film and television post-production, most notably on the reality programs Survivor and The Apprentice. Tamar is interested in the different ways one can lead, educate, and mentor, and her unique background lends itself well to this ongoing inquiry. She currently works as a Media Specialist crafting and sharing content on social media for the Career Development Office at CGU. In addition to her academic endeavors, Tamar teaches dance-fitness classes in the Los Angeles area and online and enjoys hanging out with her adopted pet, a former street cat named Savvy.

The format is simple. Participants have 3 minutes and a single PowerPoint slide to argue for the significance of their research, project, or art. This lends itself to business projects and artist statements as well as research work in the Humanities, Sciences, and Mathematics. The Big Pitch, CGU’s 3-Minute Thesis Competition, is open to all CGU students at any stage of their academic progress. For Fall 2020, the Big Pitch will be entirely virtual!

With an audience of students, staff, alumni, community members, and faculty, presentations are meant to be concise and accessible—they tell a story, use humor, and highlight the significance of student work instead of only focusing on complex details. Through this unique event, attendees learn about exciting research from across the university, and competitors develop their communication skills and compete for prizes!

Register to Attend

Important Information about the 2020 Online Format

  • Presentations are prerecorded.
  • Recording and/or editing quality are not included in the adjudicating criteria.
  • Different judging panels of faculty, staff, alumni, and community members score the preliminary and final rounds.
  • If selected to advance the finals, participants may submit a new recording between rounds.
  • Videos must meet the competition’s criteria with some optional inclusions allowed. Download The Big Pitch 2020 Presentation Requirements for all the details.


First Place $1000
Second Place $500
Third Place $250
Audience’s Winner $250
Remaining Finalists $150
All participants will receive event swag!

Important Dates

Finals Friday, November 20th
Preliminary Round Monday, November 16th to Wednesday, November 18th
PowerPoint & Video Submission Deadline Thursday, November 12th at 11:59 p.m.
Final Participation Deadline Monday, November 9th
Priority Participation Deadline Friday, October 30th

Register to Participate

Why Should I Participate?

As a student presenter, you develop academic, presentation, and research communication skills that give you a distinct career advantage after graduation. You strengthen your ability to break down complex material and explain research concisely. You improve your presentation skills by having to speak engagingly and clearly to a large audience in a short space of time. Finally, you strengthen your expertise at meeting the demands of a non-specialist audience—a valuable skill in a wide range of professions.

The Big Pitch is also beneficial more broadly by building CGU’s academic and professional culture. In addition to the professional experience presenters receive, the event contributes to the university’s intellectual culture by providing attendees an opportunity to engage in the academic life of the university outside of the confines of their department or usual role. Both internally and externally, for students and the campus community as a whole, the Big Pitch contributes to CGU’s academic mission of creating new knowledge and preparing leaders with the purpose and skills to make the world a better place.

*Students can compete more than once. Participants are allowed to enter over multiple years as long as they are active CGU students.

Ways to Participate

  1. Register to train and compete. Come for the training and then move on to the competition.
  2. Register and jump straight into the competition. Not recommended unless you have experience presenting in similar situations but still an option!
  3. Join the training without competing. Receive all the benefits of learning to talk about your research concisely and effectively by joining us for the training sessions.

One-on-One Appointments

Schedule a 15 minute one-on-one appointment with our Big Pitch Communications Specialist, Matthew Higgins, to answer any questions you have and help you prepare for the Big Pitch: https://calendly.com/matthew-higgins-public-speaking-assistance/15-minute-meeting

Matthew is a doctoral student in Positive Organizational Psychology. He received his MA in Intercultural Communication and BA in Interpersonal Communication from the University of New Mexico. At UNM, Matthew taught public speaking, introduction to communication, and nonverbal communication. For the Anderson School of Management, Matthew worked as a public speaking specialist coaching competitive speaking groups, conducting workshops, and working with students one-on-one.

Matthew also hosts weekly drop-in hours on Thursdays and Fridays from 1-3pm PST to help you with any aspect of your Big Pitch projest: https://cgu.zoom.us/j/86844828977

Writing Consultants at the Center for Writing & Rhetoric can help you develop, revise, & practice your presentation. Schedule an appointment! http://www.cgu.edu/write


  • Big Pitch Information Session: Monday, September 28th from 12-1 p.m. Learn all about the event from the changes for the virtual format to the rules for participation and criteria the judges use to assess the pitches to the structure of the preliminary and final rounds. We will also discuss all the deadlines, the dates for the series of preparative webinars being offered, and how to take advantage of all the support programs put in place for the event.

Accompanying Materials: Big Pitch Information Session PPT; Big Pitch Information Sheet; The Big Pitch 2020 Presentation Requirements.

  • Big Pitch Strategies: Tuesday, October 6th from 4-5 p.m. Preparing a presentation that is limited to one slide and three minutes to a non-specialist audience is a unique challenge; doing that on a complex topic that is meant to be condensed but not dumbed down is even more so! This webinar will address of a number of helpful strategies in approaching this rhetorical situation, from the use of narratives or themes to structure key ideas to how to insert real-life examples to how much technical information is appropriate.

Accompanying materials: Big Pitch Strategies; Big Pitch Strategies Handout; Feynman Method Handout.

  • Humanities Forum on the Big Pitch: Wednesday, October 14th from 12-1 p.m. At first glance, it might not appear that work in the Humanities or the Arts is a good fit for the format and culture of 3-Minute Thesis competitions like the Big Pitch. With our Big Pitch, we are actively trying to shift that idea and make the event an opportunity to showcase projects from across all departments at CGU. In this forum for Humanities and Art students, learn some starting points for how to talk about your art, historical analysis, cultural and literary critique, and more for the Big Pitch! 

Accompanying materials: Big Pitch Humanities Webinar

  • Big Pitch PowerPoint Slides: Tuesday, October 20th from 12-1 p.m. Given the parameters of the Big Pitch, your single PowerPoint should not be designed in the same way you would typically design a slide. Too much information will distract attention from you, and too little might give the impression that you do not have a lot to say. Learn some ideas for how to find a middle ground and create a great complement to your presentation.

Accompanying materials: Big Pitch PowerPoint Slide

  • Presentation Skills (for the Big Pitch & Beyond): Thursday, October 22nd from 3-4 p.m. This interactive webinar will cover techniques for preparing for and successfully delivering recorded presentations.

Accompanying materials: Big Pitch Presentation Skills

  • Big Pitch Strategies & PowerPoint Slides: Thursday, November 5th from 12-1:30 p.m. Key elements of both of the strategies and PowerPoint slide webinars combined into one! Please see the YouTube videos and accompanying materials above for resources on these topics.
  • How to Deliver a Pitch or New Idea in a Class or for a Research Project Part 1: Friday, October 9th from 7-10 p.m. This workshop is designed for international students to facilitate understanding of the concept of a “pitch” and practice their delivery. By “pitch”, we are referring to a process in which a student succinctly describes and delivers a new idea in a class or for a research topic. Even though this webinar pairs with the Big Pitch, international students who do not plan on entering the contest should attend to practice delivering ideas to advisors, professors, and classmates. Some of the ideas covered will be: What a Pitch Is, and Why We Do It; A Research Pitch: Why It’s Important; Identifying the Essence of an Idea and Summarizing Effectively (Studying other international student pitches for the Big Pitch); Knowing Your Audience; and, Delivery: Body Language and Elements of Speech. To register, email isp@cgu.edu.
  • How to Deliver a Pitch or New Idea in a Class or for a Research Project Part 2: Friday, October 30th from 7-10 p.m. Part 2 is a continuation of the webinar above with time to practice your presentation for the Big Pitch. To register, email isp@cgu.edu.

More Resources

  1. Learn about the application process to ensure you submit everything correctly!
  2. Make sure you know all the guidelines and judging criteria.
  3. Request access to The Big Pitch Canvas page and receive additional resources by emailing 3MT@cgu.edu.
  4. Visit our tips and resources page.