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. 

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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.



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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!



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Freshman Spotlight: David Rodriguez

David is a freshman from Pembroke Pines, Florida who majors in Political Communication. He has started improving his interpretation skills on the team and we are so excited to see him begin to grow on Texas Speech. We asked him some questions so you could get to know him better!

What’s your favorite UT course so far?

Currents of American culture, interesting look into the way people used to live

 You’re trapped on a desert island. What 3 things would you want with you? Why?
Bed, speakers, and a cool playlist

Law school

Prose, DI

Turtles are cool, I could live in the turtle pond

Haven’t been to many yet, Pluckers is good
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Freshman Spotlight: Caleb Newton

Caleb is a government major from Austin, Texas. He has started competing on the team doing limited prep and public address events. We asked Caleb a few questions so you could get to know him.


What’s your favorite UT course so far? Tell us about it.

American Studies, because it discusses how the concept of home and the American Identity has been influenced by race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status. Every time I attend the class I’m taught something new about history and how that impacts us today, which I think is pretty cool.

Rex Tillerson not because I want to be a dinosaur in a suit, but because I love foreign policy and want to become Secretary of State.

You’re trapped on a desert island. What 3 things would you want with you? Why?

Mac & cheese, because it’s all I eat. Coffee, because it’s all I drink. Rachel Evans, because I need someone to figure out how to get off the island while I eat mac & cheese.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

I want to pursue either a law degree or go to graduate school.

What events in college speech are you most excited to do?

I’m most excited for CA, because I think it’s really interesting and entertaining to research and write.

If you were a plant or animal, which would you be? Why?

I’d be that one immortal jellyfish because…well it’s immortal.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Austin?

Every single birthday I go to Zushi Sushi downtown as an excuse to eat my body weight in sushi.
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Freshman Spotlight: Juan Alfonso Núñez Rodríguez

Juan is a first year Latinx studies major from Mexico City. He has spent most of his life in San Antonio. Juan is excited to compete as an interper on the Texas Speech Team! The beginning of the speech season has been exciting for him and the team looks forward to watching him develop as a student and performer. We asked him some questions to help you get to know him better!

I absolutely love my intro to Mexican American policy class. At first it was a little intimidating since I’m one of the only freshmen in it and it is a very discussion based course, but I honestly have learned so much just by sitting in it three times a week. I actually got my POI topic from one of our discussions!

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

One of the Olsen twins. Either one, it doesn’t matter.

My copy of “The Mixquiahuala Letters” because it is a beautiful book and there are so many different ways to reread it and find something new. CVS oil removing sheets because of obvious reasons. And probably a blanket because I am forever cold always non-stop.

Become an immigration lawyer to be able to help families like mine.

POI, it was added halfway through my high school speech experience and I absolutely fell in love, I just think it’s so fun to construct and perform.

If you were a plant or animal, which would you be? Why?

A monarch butterfly. So (this is probably the only thing I remember from biology) the monarch butterflies have a migration journey from Mexico to Canada, but it takes several generations to get there. Each generation is stronger and can endure more than the one that came before. Eventually, the last butterfly is so strong that it is able to return to Mexico from Canada in one lifetime. I just think they mirror the story of so many Mexican immigrant families and have always found their journey to be inspiring and relatable.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Austin?

Café No Sé (shoutout to my awesome mentor for telling me about it)
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Freshman Spotlight: Gerard Apruzzese

Gerard is a freshman math major from Summit, New Jersey! He’s an interper with a passion for Program Oral Interpretation and is excited to explore the public address events. Gerard has spent the last semester growing on the Texas Speech Team and exploring the Forty Acres!  We asked Gerard some questions to help you get to know him better.

Chem 301 because my professor is the best. She makes the class ten times better and everyone loves it!

Probably either Lady Gaga or Kesha because they are two immensely talented beings and they are all I hope to be.

You’re trapped on a desert island. What 3 things would you want with you? Why?

Water, pop-tarts, and my binder. We need food and water plus my binder is my child.
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Feature, Team

The Cold War, A Political Game

By: Maxim Belov

Despite being backed by most policymakers, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was doomed to fail from the start. However, the Afghan quagmire did not result from military inferiority, rather from a strategic one. Our strategy was simple: win the war. Anything short of victory was a failure. On the other hand, the Taliban was fighting to survive; it could be killed but could not lose. While seemingly complex, most decisions during the war could be explained by Game Theory – an attempt at introducing mathematics into value-based decision making.

Under game theory, there are two possible games: finite and infinite. (more…)

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Feature, Team

A Day Without Women




by: Rachel Evans

photos from: IWD; The Huffington Post

March 8, 2017 : International Women’s Day. A day thousands across the world will celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.  But as individuals across the world gather to celebrate their accomplishments, they also are gearing up to protest for today’s Day Without Women. (more…)

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Feature, Team

Revisiting the “Black” Box

Jordan 1


By: Jordan Auzenne

Photos from: Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian; Solange Knowles; Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Oscar’s Sunday 2017 was a foggy morning, but the weather matched the date. While I waited in line at Starbucks, actor and producer Tracee Ellis Ross seemed to confirm the overcast on my timeline, as she donned a grey sweatshirt, hood on, with the name “TRAYVON” written big, black and capital. It was February 26th, the 5th anniversary of his death. Yet almost as soon as the photo was posted, several commented that it wasn’t the Hollywood elite’s job to call the rest of us out, to “fix her makeup and get ready to celebrate herself”. I grabbed my black coffee and got to work.

The role of Black people in the media has always been a complicated one. As the Pew Research Center explained in 2016, African Americans only make up 5.5% of those in newsrooms, sets, and stages across America. Yet as Black artists like Ellis Ross attempt to use their platform to progress the narrative of blackness, they are being shut down. It’s clear that as Black culture and aesthetics are being featured in media now more than ever, we want to enjoy Black work, so long as they stay quiet.

The timeliest example of this is Queen Bey. Black history month kicked off with a brilliant exhibition of Black strength, beauty and artistry as Beyoncé announced her pregnancy, in a photo that would later become the most liked on Instagram. Immediately, outlets like VOX, Elle and even Cosmopolitan were quick to admonish her. One writer even argued that “Beyoncé alienates other women who wish to be pregnant”, completely overlooking her (and Black women’s) history of miscarriage.

Jordan 3


What garnered the most backlash was her performance at the Grammy’s on Feb.12th, in which she donned a golden halo and bejeweled dress, giving off Virgin Mary vibes. As PBS speculated, her embodiment of Oshun, a Yoruba water goddess of “female sensuality, love and fertility,” was meant to pay respect to Black womanhood. But while columnists grappled with their conceptions of sacrilege, they missed an incredible point: that Beyoncé could be used as a performance, but not honored as an artist.

Beyoncé lost Album of the Year for the second time, to the fabulous and formidable Adele. As her younger sister, Solange, tweeted, “there have only been two black winners in the last 20 years for album of the year[.] there have been over 200 black artists who have performed”. She elucidates what several of us are realizing, that the music industry knows how powerful Beyoncé, and other artists like Kendrick, Kanye, and Nicki, have become. They recognize their influence in the community and their ability to innovate and redefine music, but only so far as to utilize their performance for viewership, then hand the award to someone else.


This cycle of exploitation occurs just as frequently in Hollywood, where certain movies can revolve around the concept of jazz without any recognition of the Black people who created it. Which is why the Academy Awards felt surreal this year. Even my RTF colleagues who adored La La Land admittedly agreed that a feel-good movie about Hollywood nostalgia shouldn’t be awarded over a film traversing the turmoil of intersectionality, of Black manhood and Black sexuality, a movie (FINALLY) where the characters weren’t either slaves or maids. What Moonlight accomplished was monumental. The low-budget indie film turned $1.5 million into $25, with an all-Black cast (including a fellow Longhorn), and little advertising. The anticipation going into Oscar’s Sunday was therefore unbearable.

The Academy Awards were in all sense of the phrase a “must see”. After 3 and a half hours, La La Land was initially announced as Best Picture, and as crew worked to fix the mistake, host Jimmy Kimmel “wanted to see [La La Land] win too”, arguing that “there are plenty of awards to go around.” It was producer Jordan Horowitz who mustered Adele-like grace, replying: “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends at Moonlight.” But even in their accomplishment, they were overshadowed by whiteness.


As Bustle articulated this morning, “This should have been a moment for people of color…for LGBTQ individuals, for people living in marginalized communities. This should have been a moment for their stories to be celebrated and seen, and instead it was a moment that turned into a punchline.” Moonlight had time to vouch for both of the films, forgive the Academy, and leave the stage. People will talk about how happy they are that they won. Or maybe how Lion or Manchester should have. They’ll talk about how wonderful Janelle Monáe looked. But we’ll never talk about the speech, because it didn’t happen. Bustle continues, “We shouldn’t have been laughing. We should have been applauding, and then holding the Academy to the responsibility of maintaining or exceeding this standard next year.”

Yet, it’s still peculiar. How in 90 years, the Oscar’s made this mistake. Still peculiar how Black artists are remembered for amazing performances, but never awards. In a time where media is being threatened more than ever before, where media is the foundation of understanding people who are far away and different from us, it’s peculiar how it keeps getting whiter.


Blay, Zeba. “Beyoncé Has Always Been Political — You Just Didn’t Notice.” The Huffington Post., 09 Feb. 2016. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.

Griffiths, Kadeen. “‘Moonlight’ May Have Won For Best Picture, But It Still Got Robbed.” Bustle. Bustle, 27 Feb. 2017. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.

Mettler, Katie. “The African, Hindu and Roman Goddesses Who Inspired Beyoncé’s Stunning Grammy Performance.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 13 Feb. 2017. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.

Midgette, Anne. “Beyoncé and the Apotheosis of the Pregnancy Announcement.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 02 Feb. 2017. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.

Moore, Suzanne. “The Oscars Mix-up Matters Because This Night Was Always about Racial Bias.” First Thoughts. Guardian News and Media, 27 Feb. 2017. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.

Vogt, Nancy. “African American News Media: Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. N.p., 15 June 2016. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.


The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Texas Speech team.

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