BROWNWOOD – October 11, 2021 – Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau (SSB) speech and debate team recently competed at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Hub City Swing debate tournament. The team claimed the top novice speaker overall and earning seventh place sweepstakes. HPU was the only Division III school to be in the top 10, winning seventh place overall. HPU’s team of five was one of 21 universities from nine different states.
Freshman Marina Nichols, a psychology major from Bangs, swept the novice division as top speaker and was a semifinalist debater.
“I am so proud of Marina’s excellent performance,” said Dr. Julie Welker, head of the Department of Communication and SSB coach. “Learning a new style of debate isn’t easy, but she really worked hard and excelled in International Public Debate Association (IPDA) debate.”
Four of HPU’s five debaters advanced to finals rounds, earning seventh place overall sweepstakes. Dr. Welker explained the significance of this achievement.
“Most of the schools we competed against have teams of 10-20 students,” she said. “Our team may be small, but we pack a large punch. When you’re competing against much larger schools, it’s a challenge. More competitors generally mean more points, so coming in seventh place overall with only five students is an accomplishment in itself.”
Junior Devin Schurman, strategic communication, social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from San Antonio, advanced to quarterfinals. Sophomore Landon Chenault, social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman honors Academy major from Denton, advanced to quarterfinals. Sophomore novice debater Ben Sartain, strategic communication major from San Antonio, advanced to quarterfinals. Junior Rishona Raub, strategic communication and Guy D. Newman honors major from Celina, competed and led the team in topic preparation.
Schurman, the team captain, was pleased by the team’s success.
“I was especially impressed by the freshmen who put a lot of extra work and time into learning new debate styles and skills for the collegiate competition arena,” he said. “I’m looking forward to see what our team does the rest of the year.”
As stated on the IPDA website, “The International Public Debate Association is one of the fastest growing interscholastic debate associations in the nation with competitive programs ranging from California to Florida, from Texas to Michigan. Our mission is to provide an opportunity for individuals to develop their advocacy skills in a forum that promotes appropriate and effective communication.”
The team will compete in three more tournaments this fall, followed by a spring schedule with two national tournaments.
Cutline for photo: HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau team members include (back row, left to right) junior Rishona Raub, freshman Marina Nichols, (front row, left to right) sophomore Landon Chenault, junior Devin Schurman and sophomore Ben Sartain.