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Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Royappa is speaking toward success

July 25, 2023 | Brandy Gottlieb |

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Elizabeth Royappa is a communications major and honors student who has been using her voice to speak out.

This summer, Elizabeth Royappa, communications major and honors student, has been putting her voice to work in Washington D.C. 

The Kugelman Honors program fully funded Royappa to attend the Special Education Legislative Summit in Washington D.C., which was held July 9-12th.  

Each year, the summit affords the opportunity for educators from across the United States to advocate for change with members of Congress. It also provides an opportunity for participants to learn from fellow educators and leaders in the field about advocacy work.  

On Tuesday, July 11th, Royappa and fellow attendees met face to face with Congress members and staffers on Capitol Hill. 

Here’s what Royappa had to say about her experience, "Watching experienced educators and lobbyists in action made me feel genuinely hopeful about our country's future. I left the summit inspired to work harder for positive change in the Pensacola community!"


"Watching experienced educators and lobbyists in action made me feel genuinely hopeful about our country's future. I left the summit inspired to work harder for positive change in the Pensacola community!" - Royappa

Since she was 14, Royappa has been an Argonaut. She was a dual-enrolled student and Pace Presidential Scholarship recipient. Now, as a communications major, this proud Argonaut has been active in putting her voice to work during her UWF career. 

An award-winning UWF speech and debate competitor, Royappa has been competing since fall of 2020. At the 2022-2023 Florida’s state championships, she placed 2nd overall in impromptu and persuasive speaking, qualifying her to advance to the Interstate Oratorical Association Contest. 

Re-elected by the Speech and Debate team, Royappa served as team captain during the 2022-2023 year and will continue in this position through 2024.

Royappa has spoken out on issues such as racism towards Asian Americans, church preparation regarding instances of sexual abuse, challenges in crime scene investigation techniques, the QAnon conspiracy theory and the phenomenon of irresponsible homeschooling. 

Royappa has also found a niche in communicating for the sciences. As a 2021 Institute for Human Machine and Cognition intern, now a staff member, Royappa has contributed to various media pieces. These have included scripts for IHMC’s STEM-Talk podcast. She also worked with Guided Particle Systems (GP) , a local business primarily focused on improving microelectronics manufacturing, research and education. In her work, she has assisted leadership in articulating and disseminating the company's highly technical mission.

Royappa’s service and academic excellence has offered her recognition for her achievements. An active member of Alpha Chi Omega, Royappa has served as vice president of intellectual development and now president for the upcoming year. Last year, the chapter received the UWF Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life’s Academic Excellence award. Royappa was also awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Student award by the Kugelman Honors Program in 2022 and by the UWF Department of Communication in 2023. 

Royappa plans to graduate in spring of 2024. Before she does, she has some goals she plans to complete. Royappa  says she plans to practice her speech and debate events “more than ever” so she can maximize her last year of competitive success and advocacy. She also says she’s excited to complete her Honors thesis, which will likely focus on religiosity in the Southeastern U.S. After graduation, Royappa says she would love to work in the nonprofit or public policy sector, perhaps in state politics. 

Most of all, Royappa says she wants to prioritize time with friends and continue cultivating the mentor-mentee relationships she’s been lucky enough to build.

Learn more about the UWF Department of Communications and programs of study by visiting