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HPU Student Speaker Bureau competes in Houston and Colorado, prepares for Oxford

SSB Team PhotoBROWNWOOD – November 1, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team recently competed at two separate tournaments. The Bayou City Swing was held at San Jacinto College North in Houston and the Southern Colorado Debate Challenge was held at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Four members of the team are also preparing to compete in Oxford, England, later in November.

Braxton Clark, senior social science global studies major from Southlake, won Top Parliamentary Debate Speaker and second place in International Public Debate Association (IPDA) style debate at the Bayou City Swing tournament.

“Braxton has been an unbelievable competitor all three years at HPU,” said Dr. Julie Welker, Student Speaker Bureau team coach and chair of the Department of Communication. “His talent and leadership are really shining through this year.” In September, Clark was named third top speaker at the Rice University debate tournament.

Additionally, Clark and teammate Tyler Olin, sophomore social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Howe, were quarterfinalists in National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) debate at the Bayou City Swing tournament.

HPU won second place overall in debate sweepstakes and the tournament.

Other team members competing at the Bayou City Swing were Erin Haley, freshman communication major from Mason; Mike Hord, freshman political science and social science jurisprudence major from Montgomery; Madison Neal, freshman social science jurisprudence major from Chandler; Aimee Orozco, junior communication major from Shepherd; Isabelle Stahrfisher, freshman communication major from Fort Worth; and Haylee Williams, freshman communication major from Bellville. Assistant coach Sidni Kirby, instructor of communication, traveled with the team.

At the Colorado College debate tournament, students competed in World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC) style debate in preparation for their trip to Oxford, England, to compete at the third largest WUDC debate tournament in the world.

WUDC debate involves four teams of two debaters, and each debater presents an eight-minute speech.

“WUDC debate is the standard format of debate on the international circuit,” said Dr. Welker. “Students debate a different topic each round, and we typically debate a minimum of five to six rounds per tournament.”

Competing in Colorado were Morgan Ashmore, senior communication major from Weatherford; Christopher Freeland, sophomore biochemistry major and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Bangs; Reagan Grisham, junior communication major from Arlington; and Andrea Balderas, junior biology major from Lytle. These four students will represent HPU in November at one of the most prestigious debate tournaments in the world, competing against teams from Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard and many other Tier I universities from the United States and around the world.


Cutline: Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau recently competed in Houston and Colorado. Pictured from left are: Dr. Julie Welker, Morgan Ashmore, Braxton Clark, Aimee Orozco, Isabella Stahrfisher, Madison Neal, Christopher Freeland, Gabi McWhirter, Erin Haley, Brooklyn Britton, Isaac Sommers, Andrea Balderas, Haylee Williams, Reagan Grisham, Tyler Olin and Ms. Sidni Kirby.

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