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HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau competes nationally, abroad

ssb oxford for webBROWNWOOD – December 3, 2014 – HPU’s competitive speech and debate team, Student Speaker Bureau, competed recently at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association fall championship tournament held at Texas Christian University and at the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debating Competition held in Oxford, England.

Freshman Braxton Clark, communication and political science major from Southlake, won fifth place top speaker at the TCU tournament.

“For a freshman to step in and win fifth best speaker at this tournament is quite an accomplishment,” said Dr. Julie Welker, head of the Department of Communication and SSB coach. “Most of the top 10 speakers are seasoned juniors and seniors. Braxton is an outstanding debater and I’m excited to see what he will do in the future.”

Following the tournament at TCU, the team traveled to Oxford to compete in the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debating Competition, one of the largest and most prestigious debating competitions on the UK University circuit and globally.

In Oxford, the team competed in a different debate format, British Parliamentary Debate. In this format, four teams of two debaters each compete in a round. Students have eight years of eligibility in this debate format so HPU teams debated graduate students, including doctoral candidates and law students.

“What makes this type of debate so challenging is that each debate round is a new topic,” said Welker. “These students have to be versed in many world topics, not just one issue. In this tournament alone, they debated about Hungarian politics, the parliament voting system, human rights issues, freelance journalism in war zones and ethnic-based political parties.”

HPU competed against teams from University of Cambridge, Stanford University, Colgate University and many other universities around the world. There were almost 300 competitors at this tournament.

“Only 16 students advance to finals at this tournament so, strategically, it is very hard to advance,” said Welker. “However, our HPU teams beat many other good schools, including one of the teams in the finals. That is a huge accomplishment, and I’m very proud of our team.”

Students who competed in both tournaments included Clark; Marcos Corley, senior criminal justice major from Corpus Christi; Meg Eakin, sophomore communication major from Plano; Adam Jones, junior youth ministry and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Irving; Luis Rodriguez Ortiz, freshman English and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Brownsville; Jared Russell, senior theatre major from Hillsboro; Kaleigh Tankersley, senior communication major from Iraan; and Dorie Walton, senior communication major from Lolita.

After the tournament in Oxford, the team traveled to London where they visited the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and many other attractions.

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Photo cutline: HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau recently competed in Oxford, England. Pictured at the famed Oxford Union are, from left, Dr. Julie Welker, Braxton Clark, Adam Jones, Kaleigh Tankersley, Marcos Corley, Meg Eakin, Jared Russell, Dorie Walton and Luis Rodriguez.

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