Speech and debate has changed my life. For those of you who don’t know, speech and debate is an academic extra or co-curricular activity in which there are many competitive events under each umbrella of “speech” and “debate”. Events range from speaking with limited preparation, more traditional memorized and researched platform speeches and multiple subdivisions of debate including the interpretation and dramatization of literature. I joined the speech and debate team when I was in sixth grade. I am now a sophomore in college, so that means I have been on a speech and debate team for going on nine years now. I have never done anything else that has made me grow so much as a person before.
Not only do I learn incredibly interesting things by watching others give speeches, but I myself have become a better student. I think about writing papers differently, I never struggle with public speaking and I can always defend myself.
For me, speech and debate is not about winning trophies or having more accomplishments to put on your resume. Speech and debate is about training world changers. It’s about giving confidence to people that will eventually end up being politicians, activists, artists, performers or history makers. It’s all people who believe that no matter what, they should speak up for the voiceless, fight fiercely for equality and be the leaders of the next generation. Every time I go to a tournament, I am surrounded by some of the smartest people in my age range. I never feel more powerful than when I am with my teammates. I have found my voice and I can make a difference.
For the longest time, I never had a voice. I never stood up for myself. I never asked questions in class. I never wanted to take the lead in group projects or write speeches. All of those things that I never wanted to do are now things I love to do.
I have gained so much confidence by joining speech and debate. Many people have gained this same confidence by being on a debate team. Oprah Winfrey, Adam Sandler, Nelson Mandela, Richard Nixon, Malcolm X and Bruce Springsteen were all on debate teams while they were in high school or college. That just shows you the kind of successful people that come out of speech and debate teams.
I especially look forward to life after speech and debate because of the skills that I have gained. I am very confident about moving on with my career in the workplace because of my past experiences. My coach talks all the time about alumni of the team that have been offered countless jobs once employers learned they were on a speech and debate team. People on speech and debate teams have a reputation of having great research skills, high public speaking abilities and ability to accept criticism and adapt to different audiences. They are more aware of a wider range of people, personalities and cultures. Because of these great skills I have learned, I think I will be well suited to succeed in my future career. I look forward to all of the great things speech and debate will continue to offer me.