I wholeheartedly engaged in preparation and practice. My sister and I qualified
to regionals in the process, and debated
the region’s best team. During my freshman year, my new partner and I advanced
to regionals on a winning record, and I
qualified in Impromptu! I also received an
official leadership position as an assistant
coordinator at a novice tournament.
My leadership skills were tested further as a sophomore when I debated with
my younger brother, a novice. My work
ethic also received a critical test, when I
was assigned to research a complicated
“case” during an extremely busy week.
I hastily compiled the minimum four-page brief in forty-five minutes—when
research required at least two to four
hours. As I submitted it, my conscience
warned me that I would not want to use
my own work. I turned the brief in anyway, hoping I would not debate the team.
Sure enough, the next tournament, my
partner and I debated that team. Sure
enough, my brief was useless, and we lost.
As our coach discussed the case with us
again, I resolved never to research solely
to reach a deadline. My criteria became
no less than whether or not I would want
to debate a round solely on my brief.
After eight hours of research and a six-teen-page brief, I was satisfied with my
job well done.
Soon afterward, I was appointed to
the club’s student leadership team. My
position was not without difficulties. I
encountered opposition the first week, be-
cause my review of brief formatting was
not “relaxed” enough. Our team discussed
and quickly resolved the conflict with a
satisfactory compromise. I found it best
to simply face the issue and take owner-
ship of any difficult situation; leadership
requires such fortitude. The same year, I
qualified in Persuasive to NCFCA Nation-
als, an accomplishment reserved for the
top twelve percent of competitors in the
third-largest national league.
During my junior year, I co-founded a
club, because I felt that I could serve more
people in that capacity. By meeting online to prepare students for competition,
the club—Speech and Debate USA—
includes those who otherwise could not
participate in the activity, due to a lack of
a club in their area or travel difficulties.
Nevertheless, the decision to branch out
and start an entirely new organization
was difficult. Speech and Debate USA is
the only national club in our league, and
the idea of internet speech and debate is
completely novel. Although our club was
small its first year, my partner and I were
octafinalists at regionals. I also won third
place Team Policy speaker at the same
tournament, an unimaginable feat when
I first started debate.
Besides improving my speaking ability,
speech and debate enriched my academic
and personal success. The most significant areas are my research and people
skills. Not only has my knowledge of policy issues (environmental, U.S./Russia,
I also have conquered
the fear of speaking
with strangers, whether
ringing the doorbell
on a precinct walk, or
to college peers and