BROWNWOOD – February 19, 2014 – Howard Payne University’s competitive speech and debate team, Student Speaker Bureau, recently competed at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association spring championship tournament at Rice University. The team won 5th place overall sweepstakes, losing only to Division I universities.
“This is a great accomplishment,” said Dr. Julie Welker, head of the communication department and SSB coach. “It is outstanding when a university the size of HPU comes in right behind larger universities. Most of those schools have upwards of 20 students on their team and enter twice as many events. We are competing with eight students. Our students pack a lot of bang for their buck!”
The team had a strong showing in debate, as the open division team of Katie Mullaney, senior English and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Boylston, Mass., and Ben Palmer, senior youth ministry major from Brownwood, advanced to quarterfinals.
HPU had four speakers in the top 20 for parliamentary debate speaker awards. Winning top speaker awards were Mullaney and Adam Jones, freshman communication, youth ministry and Academy major from Irving, both of whom ranked in the top 10. Palmer and Andres Zambrano, freshman Academy and political science major from Brownwood, ranked in the top 20.
Palmer also advanced to semifinals in extemporaneous speaking, and Jones advanced to semifinals in impromptu speaking.
“I am extremely proud of all of these students,” said Welker. “This was our first parliamentary debate tournament since last September, so we were a little rusty. It’s impressive that we had a team break to quarters and receive such great speaking awards.”
Welker added that the HPU students have been able to step in and succeed, even with such a young team.
“We only have two graduating seniors on our team, Katie and Ben, and they are great leaders,” she said. “Their debating experience really shines through at these tough tournaments.”
Other students who competed at the tournament were Marcos Corley, junior criminal justice major from Corpus Christi; Meg Eakin, freshman political science major from Plano; Jaclyn Bonner, freshman communication major from Lytle; and Adrianna Perez, junior political science major from Rowlett. Kim Bryant, associate professor of communication, also helps coach the team.