Speech and debate students named All-Americans
May 21, 2008 -- Three members of the SF State speech and debate team have been named All-Americans in debate and individual events at this year's national tournaments. This prestigious mark of recognition places Lisa Rau, Vince Alvarez and Jeff Martin among the top speech and debate students in the United States.
Lisa Rau was one of 16 students nationwide to be named an All-American at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament, held at the University of Texas at Austin in April. Known for bringing wit and insight to controversial topics, Rau has earned first place in a string of competitive events including communication analysis, informative speaking, prose interpretation and after dinner speaking. For the last two years she has been named Platform Speaker of the Year by the Northern California Forensics Association. Rau graduates this May with a double major in communication studies and creative writing.
"I have really learned to clarify my thoughts and be very intentional with my words," Rau said. "But being involved in speech has also taught me how to be a better listener and audience member. I really can't count how many performances I have clapped for since I joined the team."
Debating duo Vince Alvarez and Jeff Martin were named All-Americans at the Cross Examination Debate Association's (CEDA) National Championship held in Wichita, Kan., in March.
"Cross examination debate involves two two-person teams competing against each other, scoring points based on their constructive arguments, rebuttals and cross examination," Alvarez said.
For the CEDA National Championship, the topic focused on the Middle East, but Alvarez and Martin took an alternative approach, using the topic as a springboard to discussing concepts of truth and language. They also used comedy and drama to challenge the traditional style seen among the debating community. "We wanted to convince people through different means," said Martin, who is pursuing a special major.
Alvarez attributes his All-American status to his and Martin's strong track record in this year's debate season, which ran October through April. "We beat Stanford in the qualifying event for the National Debate Tournament and at the CEDA National Championship we beat Dartmouth and reached the final 64 teams," Alvarez said.
In addition to being named All-Americans, Alvarez and Martin are the first SF State team to qualify for the National Debate Tournament, one of the oldest and most exclusive tournaments, which was held at CSU Fullerton in March.
"There's no right or wrong way of debating and that's what makes it so fun," said Alvarez, who was named Policy Debater of the Year this year by the Northern California Forensics Association. A major in communication studies, Alvarez graduates in May.
"I’m gratified that the hard work and creativity of these students has been acknowledged by the national forensics community," said Shawn Whalen, director of SF State's speech and debate team and lecturer in communication studies.
The SF State speech and debate team has a decades-long history of success in debate and individual events tournaments, collectively known as forensics. The team regularly defeats such universities as Stanford, Dartmouth and Harvard.
-- Elaine Bible
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