Speech and Debate celebrates 10 years of international travel


Mayra Figueroa Vazquez

Mariana Sanchez performing her persuasive speech at the 16th annual Speech and Debate showcase.

Mayra Figueroa Vazquez, News Editor

San Diego Mesa College’s Speech and Debate team celebrates 10 years of international travel at their 16th annual showcase on May 9 where former and current students came together to perform different categories of competition.

This year students Katya Azzam, Alyette Afront, Mariana Sanchez, Jescel Leeh Ocampo, Alex Adams and Finola Torres were chosen to travel abroad to Montreal, Canada for the International Forensics Association where the whole team came in third place overall.

Individually Ocampo received 5th place in poetry oral interpretation. She performed the same poem from competition, “A Letter To My Nephew” by Jason Magabo Perez,  at the showcase moving the crowd and her coach, Scott Plambek, to tears. Coach Das Nugent said “Jescel Leeh is incredible she brings me to tears all the time, I am constantly impressed by her every single day.”

Sanchez is a two year Speech and Debate alum who was voted best overall performer by her coaches and placed 1st in persuasive speaking at the International Forensics Association. She moved the crowd with stunning statistics of postpartum death due to unattended mothers. Sanchez was very devoted to this cause and asked the audience to sign a letter she drafted to the National Board of Nursing demanding the  reevaluation of the certification procedures for newly licensed nurses. Sanchez said to the audience that the birth of a baby should be viewed as “a day of celebration, not a day of mourning.”

Afont received the semi finalist award for impromptu speaking and Azzam received 6th place in prose oral interpretation, a category Nugent describes as “a story meant to be read out loud.” Azzam was also received 6th place in parliamentary debate along with her partner Torres.

Former students David Berver, Trevor Stutzman, Dennis Gulyas and Jessica Haskin participated in a friendly debate as part of the celebration. Stutzman, who took part in Speech and Debate for two years, was happy to praise how much the skills he learned in this class has contributed to his life. He said “it’s helped in past careers, it helps everyday, it’s not necessarily a direct one to one so much as a skill that can never be unlearned.”

Bryan Malinis who has been a coach for seven years and stated that “Speech and Debate teaches students how to ethically seek knowledge, process information, construct an argument, and speak with conviction. We help students understand that knowledge is power and your voice is the vehicle to exercise that power.” Overjoyed by the performances and the turnout of the event he added, “Through all the laughs, tears, fears, and triumphs throughout the year, seeing our students grow into more poised, confident versions of themselves is the greatest reward for me, as an educator.”