From camper to performer

Reflections by Brendan Chan

Brendan with Nicole Kreisberg, who would later become his teammate, and John Michael Guavara

As a recent graduate and new alum of the UT Speech Team, I can say that the four years I spent as a competitor, officer, and Captain on the team had a deep and profound impact on my life. I would not be the same person that I am today without my time in UT Speech, and I know that I wouldn’t have ever been on the team without attending UTNIF.

To be honest, I went to UTNIF by accident. I had intended on going to a local camp in my hometown of San Antonio but that fell through, so I applied to UTNIF at the last minute. It seemed like something that would be fun (and it was) but I had no idea that it would change my life forever. I attended UTNIF the summer before my senior year of high school back in 2006 and it was the experience that sparked my dedication to speech and debate.

Former team captains and duo partners Joe and Brendan during their time at UTNIF

On almost every night of UTNIF, there is a Performance Hour where campers get to watch 3-4 performances put on by various counselors and Texas Speech Team members. As an excited 17-year-old camper, I thought Performance Hour was the best thing ever. I got to see amazing performers doing things I had never even imagined were possible in performance. The whole experience really just opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that existed in speech and helped me fall in love with the activity.

Fast forward two years to right after I had just completed my freshman year at UT and I’m sitting in a suit in an auditorium waiting to perform at Performance Hour during UTNIF. I remember that it felt so weird to be on the other side of things—I could vividly remember sitting in the audience and almost worshipping anyone who graced the stage at Performance Hour. How could I be one of those performers now? Would the students at UTNIF like my performance? What if I messed up?

I performed my heart out that night and have continued to do so every summer since then. Getting to return to UTNIF and share what I’ve learned as a member of the Texas Speech Team is almost a surreal experience, but it is one that I am truly thankful for.

5 years later, Brendan and Joe shared their final performance in speech together

This past weekend, I got to perform two different Duos from my senior year. Both of them were alongside two of my best friends, one of whom I attended UTNIF with, started and ended my time at UT with, and experienced my last performance in competitive speech with.

I can only hope that one day, there will be more students who sit where I sat three summers ago, nervously preparing to step on that stage and having never thought that it was possible to be a performer at UTNIF. UT Speech helped dramatically change the course of my life and is so tightly intertwined with my college experience. Sometimes, I am still in disbelief as to how many amazing things had to fall into place to lead me where I am now, but I am thankful every single day for my time on the Texas Speech Team, and I know that everything started at UTNIF.


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