TJC’s speech and debate team brought home several awards from the Texas Intercollegiate Forensic Association’s (TIFA) state tournament at Texas A&M University and from Texas Community College Forensic Association (TCCFA).
During TIFA, the group competed against 18 community colleges and universities such as UT Austin, Texas A&M and their primary debate competitor, the University of North Texas.
“TIFA was really good. We saw one of our interpreters, Omari Hawkins, doing very well against UT Austin and Texas State,” said sophomore member of the speech and debate team, Gavin Downing. “Our debate team also did really well. My partner and I made it to the final round.”
TJC earned first place in Limited Team Sweepstakes and several of the members were awarded for the Top Community College participants category: Gavin Downing for Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking; Omari Hawkins for Program Oral Interpretation; Aaron Kelley and Alex Dickson for Parliamentary Debate.
With 2017 being a year of great relevance in politics, that theme was approached in many sections of the competition.
“[The competition] allows us to really kind of see issues — huge, massive global issues from each side. We talked a lot about politics, Trump was a proffered and favorable topic. We also did a lot of things talking about immigration, which it’s a huge one, or the building of a wall,” said Downing.
According to Downing, TIFA was more than just a competition. It was an important learning experience.
“We get to learn a lot about the policy aspect and what it means to be an individual who is informed on these issues,” said Downing. “In our current system, in our current society, everybody is always focused on being right. The right and the left, and they always want to be right, but they’re not looking at what’s actually correct, which is an intersection of both issues.”
They were also awarded at TCCFA with second place in Sweepstakes Debate and third place in overall Sweepstakes.
“I’m very proud. It’s nice to see others recognize the hard work that your students have put through,” said M’Liss Hindman, speech professor and director for the Speech and Debate team.
The team is now practicing to qualify for the American Forensic Association’s National Individual Events tournament (April 1-3), which will be held at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and for the Phi Rho Pi Tournament in Virginia April 9-15.