News from the Aurora University community

Students excel during forensics competition

Posted by on May 1, 2018


Aurora University Speech and Debate Team members (from left) Brendan O’Daniell, Ashanti Phillips, Aminah Mujahid, Daniella Digiulio and Kevin Berger recently participated in the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament.

Preparation and hard work recently led members of Aurora University’s Speech and Debate Team to high honors at Tennessee State University during the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament. More than 600 students from 25 states competed during the three-day tournament.

Senior Kevin Berger earned Excellence in Novice standing for a style of debate called IPDA (which stands for International Public Debate Association). Each competitor received a surprise topic and then had only 30 minutes to prepare to defend a pro or con perspective based on that topic. For this style, any subject is viable, from statements rooted in the real world to metaphorical concepts.

Sophomore Daniella Digiulio received an Excellence in Interviewing award for participating in three rounds of one-on-one discussions with a judge in a format that simulates a job interview. In each round, a judge questioned five competitors before announcing winners.

For both Berger and Digiulio, “Excellence” means that they placed within the top 20 percent of their field.

Public Narrative is the style that helped sophomore Ashanti Phillips advance to the semifinal round and gave freshman Aminah Mujahid a third-place finish. For this format, competitors present a 10-minute prepared monologue recounting a powerful experience from their lives. They give the same monologue over multiple rounds, with their average score determining their final ranking.

A diversity of backgrounds offers the team members — not all of whom are communication majors — the chance to distinguish themselves during regional and national tournaments, which are held throughout the year.

“We welcome students with varying amounts of experience,” said Brianne Giese, assistant professor in the Communication Department and the director of forensics. “Every student comes with unique ideas. What’s important is that the more of themselves they put into this, the more they get out of it.”

For AU, the results of the tournament are especially welcome given that the Speech and Debate Team is only three years old. Plus, it is a young team, made up of mostly of freshman or sophomore students. Each one has a determination to achieve, which can result in not just confidence in public speaking but also success in academics.

“Research shows that students involved in speech and debate often do better in classrooms,” said Giese. “Competing helps our students get ahead.”