Texas Speech places 3rd at 2019 AFA!

The University of Texas intercollegiate speech team, Texas Speech, travelled to Tuscaloosa, AL to compete at the 2019 American Forensic Association National individual Events Tournament, April 4-7. The team placed 3rd nationally at the contest, hosted by the University of Alabama. The team amassed 456.5 points at the contest, finishing ahead of the University of Alabama (398 points), George Mason University (259.5 points), and behind Western Kentucky University (495 points), and tournament champions Bradley University (506.5 points).

The top 10 also included the University of Nebraska at Omaha (6th), Northwestern University (7th), the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (8th), Hastings College of Nebraska (9th), and Illinois State University rounding out the top 10.

Senior Sarah Courville was recognized as the 2019 AFA National Champion in Dramatic Interpretation, and she was joined by teammates Juan Nunez, Kimberly Lee, and Danielle Castillo for a very rare close-out of the top 4 places in a single category.

Sophomore Nunez and early graduating Senior Dyana Martinez each twice finished as national runners up in their respective events, narrowly missing national titles in Dramatic Interpretation, Program Oral Interpretation, Extemporaneous Speaking, and Communication Analysis. Martinez also placed 5th in Persuasive Speaking. Senior Jordan Auzenne placed in the top 3 in two categories—Persuasive Speaking and Communication Analysis, and Seniors Rachel Evans & Seis Steves were also both recognized as national finalists, with Evans placing 3rd in After Dinner Speaking and Steves placing 6th in Prose Interpretation.

The team travels next to Santa Ana, California, for the National Forensic Association national tournament, followed by an appearance for Junior Sabrina Savoie at the Interstate Oratorical Association contest in Westchester, PA.

Congratulations to the following students on their individual awards:

National Quarter-Finalists (top 24 nationally)

  • Briana Mier & Carlos Diaz (Duo Interpretation)
  • Caleb Newton (Persuasive Speaking)
  • Danielle Castillo (Prose Interpretation)
  • Dyana Martinez (After Dinner Speaking)
  • Erin Swearingen (Persuasive Speaking)
  • Evan Ortiz (Persuasive Speaking)
  • Jordan Rojas (Communication Analysis, Extemporaneous Speaking & Impromptu Speaking)
  • Juan Nunez (Informative Speaking)
  • Katayoun Khalilian (Extemporaneous Speaking)
  • Kimberly Lee (Program Oral Interpretation)
  • Maxim Belov (Extemporaneous Speaking & Impromptu Speaking)
  • Nader Syed (Extemporaneous Speaking & Impromptu Speaking)
  • Rachel Evans (Communication Analysis)
  • Sarah Courville (Prose Interpretation)
  • Seis Steves (After Dinner Speaking, Informative Speaking, Dramatic Interpretation, Program Oral Interpretation)

National Semi-Finalists (top 12 nationally)

  • Briana Mier & Danielle Castillo (Duo Interpretation)
  • David Rodriguez (Poetry Interpretation)
  • Elizabeth Boone (After Dinner Speaking)
  • Jordan Auzenne (Extemporaneous Speaking)
  • Nader Syed (Persuasive Speaking)
  • Sarah Courville (After Dinner Speaking)

National Finalists (Top 6 nationally)

  • Sarah Courville – National Champion (Dramatic Interpretation)
  • Juan Nunez – 2nd place (Dramatic Interpretation & Program Oral Interpretation)
  • Dyana Martinez – 2nd place (Communication Analysis & Extemporaneous Speaking)
  • Kimberly Lee – 3rd place (Dramatic Interpretation)
  • Jordan Auzenne – 3rd place (Communication Analysis & Persuasive Speaking)
  • Rachel Evans – 3rd place (After Dinner Speaking)
  • Danielle Castillo – 4th place (Dramatic Interpretation)
  • Dyana Martinez – 5th place (Persuasive Speaking
  • Seis Steves – 6th place (Prose Interpretation)

Overall Speaker:

  • Dyana Martinez – 8th place Speaker
  • Seis Steves – 15th place Speaker
  • Juan Nunez – 17th place Speaker
  • Jordan Auzenne – 19th place Speaker

Freshman Spotlight: Deborah Nans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah Nans

Hometown: Depends

Major: Business

 

What are three things on your freshman year bucket list?

I haven’t researched much about Austin to be honest. But, I do need to get back into the habit of reading

 

What is your favorite class in college so far?

MIS/History of West Africa

 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Learn to manage success

 

If you could be famous what would you want to be famous for?

I do not know.

 

What is your favorite thing about speech?

Expression and the all-round applicable quotes thrown here and there. Quotes like “Success is a by-product of Excellence.” Good one, Ryan.

 

 

Freshman Spotlight: Katayoun Khalilian

Katayoun Khalilian

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Major: Biology

What are three things on your freshman year bucket list?

I think three things on my freshman year bucket list are to first meet a lot of new people and make a lot of new friends that aren’t just in my major. Second, I really want to kill chemistry. It’s a really difficult course for me personally, and I really just want to make sure I get good grades this semester. And I think finally, I want to have a family dinner with my friends where I make them mac and cheese because I’m very proud of my mac and cheese skills, but I have no one to make my mac and cheese with. SO I really want to get that checked off.

What is your favorite class in college so far?

So far, I think the most interesting class I have enrolled in is my modern middle eastern history class because I feel like I got a lot of different history classes throughout high school but most of them were focused on Europe or the U.S. and how they impacted the world. Whereas this class gives a very in depth look into a region where I’m from and I’m really interested in. And it’s all in the modern world too. 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

The best piece of advice I ever gave was to my best friend Margie who is back in Dallas, and I told her that you live life and everything you do in life is for yourself at the end of the day. You shouldn’t be living for other people, and you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to other people of their progress at all because once you start to look at your own life through someone else’s eyes you’re no longer achieving your own personal goals. You’re trying to live up to somebody else’s standards. So focusing on yourself and making sure what your doing is the best for you and that it makes you happy is the only real way to ensure that your life is for yourself and that you’re being successful. 

If you could be famous what would you want to be famous for?

I think I’d really like to be famous for being involved in some big social movement. I think one thing I think is really interesting is in today’s political climate a lot of Muslim Americans don’t really have their stories told as far as how we are being affected by the current government because not a lot of us have spoken out. We are a lot smaller community than Latinx people or African Americans in the U.S. who have also been affected by the regime. But I really want to raise voices and concerns about exactly how Muslim Americans are being affected, so I think that would be pretty cool to be recognized for. 

What is your favorite thing about speech?

My favorite thing about speech is being able to see how every individual has such a different background and a different story that they want to tell. Every person has their own kind of specialization in what topics interest them, and just by being in speech and talking to my teammates, I get to learn so much about issues that I first of all probably never knew existed and also get a very personal of it so it doesn’t seem very textbook of clinical when I’m learning about those issues. 

Freshman Spotlight: Kimberly Lee

 

Kimberly Lee

Hometown: Summit, NJ

Major: Communication and Leadership

What are three things on your freshman year bucket list?

Three things on my freshman year bucket list…I’d have to say one is definitely to explore the music scene in austin. I haven’t really had a chance to do that because I don’t have a car here. So that kind of sucks. Another thing is definitely to explore more food. I haven’t been able to do that much either. I have explored a couple of food options, but my friend sent me this huge list of place around austin so I’m really excited to check that out. The last thing I guess is just to meet a ton of new people which I have already which is really awesome. But as the second semester starts, I really want to talking to people from really diverse majors from my own.

What is your favorite class in college so far?

It has to be intro to communications and leadership taught by Dr. JB. It talks about different kinds of leaders and what qualities make a leader, and it was extremely interesting because you never really think about that. Especially in the weirdest situations like the bombing in Japan.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

By far the best piece of advice I’ve been given is to fake it ’til you make it just because nobody really knows what they are doing in life, and that is a universal truth that nobody really talks about. SO if you just fake it, eventually you will believe what you do.

If you could be famous what would you want to be famous for?

If I was famous for anything, I think I would really want it to be for something through social justice efforts. But I think specifically with children. I have a special place in my heart for helpless children and orphans in third world countries, so I would really love if I was famous for some kind of effort for that. 

What is your favorite thing about speech?

I think my favorite thing about speech is being able to listen to voice that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to be exposed to. Speech is such a diverse community in a variety of spectrums that you can hear six incredibly different stories in one hour which is absolutely crazy. 

Freshman Spotlight: Roy Salazar

Roy Salazar

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Major: Journalism

What are three things on your freshman year bucket list?

Three things on my freshman year bucket list are getting involved politically in protests because that’s not something I could do at home, meeting lots of new people, and getting to eat lots of new food.

What is your favorite class in college so far?

My favorite class in college so far has been Mexican-American literature. It’s been amazing.  

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

The best piece of advice I’ve been given is that I shouldn’t think about how people perceive my identity, who I am, or how I express myself. But that I should just be myself constantly. 

If you could be famous, what would you want to be famous for?

I would want to be famous for spreading diversity and really being inclusive of everyone regardless of how they identify or their cultural identity. 

What is your favorite thing about speech?

My favorite thing about speech is that its a platform for you to spread your message regardless of what it is. 

Freshman Spotlight: Clay Parker

Clay Parker

Hometown: Fairview, Texas

Major: Government

What are three things on your freshman year bucket list?

Like everyone else I really want to get to know Austin better, especially coming from a smaller, suburban, almost rural town. Getting to know Austin would be great because there are so many opportunities here. Besides that, getting a good support system, a good group of friends, which I already feel like is going pretty well. With speech it’s easy to find a group like that. Lastly, solidify what I am aiming towards with college, what I want my future to be, career choices, and stuff like that. 

What is your favorite class in college so far?

My favorite class in college so far is probably English 310F: Literature, Film and other arts. It’s literally just about books and short stories are adapted to movies. So we’ve been watching some older stuff like some Akira Kurosawa stuff if that means anything and Alfred Hitchcock. But eventually we are going to watch The Handmaid’s Tale TV series and Persepolis, and other stuff like that. It’s been interesting to see what choices are made to adapt something over, and I’m into movies and stuff so it’s all really interesting to me.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

The best piece of advice is probably from my dad. He constantly told us the classic one of “if you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.” As cliche and reposted as that is, I do believe you should surround yourself with people that will make you better and will increase your skill set that ways it’s beneficial for everybody. 

If you could be famous, what would you want to be famous for?

If I could be famous it would have to be for being WWE champion of the world with a rock hard six pack and an absolutely great physique which I already have obviously. But i would work on the championship part and actually being a wrestler. 

What is your favorite thing about speech?

My favorite thing about speech, besides the community, is when I watch interp performances and I completely lose my self. I forget that I’m watching either a high school kid or a college kid, and I feel like I’m watching the character the performer is actually trying to be. It’s really an amazing thing when you can lose yourself into their performance and truly believe what they are portraying. That’s my favorite thing.

Freshman Spotlight: Meera Sam

 

Meera Sam

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Major: Government

What are three things on your freshman year bucket list?

My first thing is to get to know the city of Austin really well and find spots that I can just go to and relax because its such a cool city. Second is to actually enrich myself in the classes that I’m in and actually focus on the material and gain a bunch of knowledge. And third is to really find a topic in speech that I’m passionate about and actively go for that. 

What is your favorite class in college so far?

My favorite class is definitely my Black Power Movement class with Professor Moore. He really talks about race in America and its history and impact on current social situations. 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

The best piece of advice I have ever been given is definitely, when you do something be passionate about it. That really motivates me to pursue the things that I’m actually passionate about and actually enjoy doing. 

If you could be famous, what would you want to be famous for?

I think I would definitely want to be famous for activism because that’s one of my major career goals and overall favorite things to do. And I really like the idea of using my voice and my platform. 

What is your favorite thing about speech?

My favorite thing about speech is definitely the aspect of awareness and spreading your story even if it means structuring it in a different way. And I love the different types of narratives I get to witness at speech tournaments. 

Freshman Spotlight: Spencer Schumacher

 

 

  Spencer Schumacher                                                                                                                                    Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky                                                                                                                        Major: Government

What are three things on your freshman year bucket list?

Three things on my freshman year bucket list are to get through two semesters without destroying my GPA, to make a bunch of new friends inside and outside of speech, and to explore Austin because it’s a cool city!

What is your favorite class in college so far?

My favorite class is my Congressional Elections class. It’s basically like hearing an extemp speech every day in school, and my professor is really cool and really knowledgable. 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

The best piece of advice I was ever given was by one of my friends back in Kentucky who asked, “When you’re having a conversation with someone, are you listening so you can respond or are you listening so you can understand.” That’s helped me be able to understand other people’s points of view. 

If you could be famous, what would you want to be famous for?

If I were famous, I would want to be famous for being the best mayor Louisville, Kentucky has ever seen. 

What is your favorite thing about speech?

My favorite thing about speech is every single time I go to a tournament or just hear a friend practicing, I am exposed to so many different ideas, and I get to learn so much just by listening. 

Freshman Spotlight: Erin Swearingen

 

Erin Swearingen

Hometown: Buda, Texas

Major: Government

 

What are you most excited about for your freshman year?

I’m most excited to find a group of people that are like me and enjoy the same things I do.

 

What is your favorite movie and why?

My favorite movie is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince because it’s the best movie out of the series, and I love Harry Potter. However, it is not the best book. That would be the fifth one, The Order of the Phoenix.

 

What was your favorite event in high school?

My favorite event in high school was Duo because me and my duo partner were best friends all throughout high school, and it was just a really good way to end our senior year.

 

If you could be any powerful person or celebrity, who would you be and why?

I would be Kristin Chenoweth because she is a Broadway goddess, and I adore her and everything she does.

 

What is your favorite thing about speech?

My favorite thing about speech is advocating for things that don’t normally get spoken about. You see a completely wide variety of topics and events, and you’re given a platform to talk about every single things that needs to be talked about.

 

 

Freshman Spotlight: Evan Ortiz

 

Evan Ortiz

Hometown: Houston, TX

Major: Government/ Physics

 

What are you most excited about for your freshman year?

Definitely the food! Austin is definitely superior to Houston in that industry for sure!

 

What was your favorite event in high school?

My favorite event in high school was probably Congress. It was something I could I could just mess around and have fun with and not really pay too much attention to!

 

If you could be any powerful person or celebrity, who would you be and why?

Either Nicki Minaj or Meryl Streep! Two iconic and powerful women who just took control of the industry in their respective fields.

 

What is your favorite thing about speech?

My favorite thing is definitely meeting new people and making friends!