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Three SFSU students named All-Americans in intercollegiate speech, debate



Matt Itelson
SFSU Office of Public Affairs
(415) 338-1743
(415) 338-1665


Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs


Honors mark second consecutive year that SFSU students are named to an All-American team 

SAN FRANCISCO, April 14, 2003 — Three members of the San Francisco State University Speech and Debate Team were recently named All-Americans following national intercollegiate tournaments in debate and individual events, placing them among the top college speakers in the United States.

This is the second consecutive year in which SFSU students were named All-American.

All-Americans must be seniors and are honored for their speech and debate skills, community service and scholastic achievement.

Senior Juli Lu, a 24-year-old Pacifica resident who grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, and senior Tony Bernacchi, a 33-year-old San Ramon resident, were named to the All-American team in debate at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) national tournament held last month at Arizona State University.

Senior Marina Whitchurch, a 28-year-old San Francisco resident who grew up in Santa Rosa, was named to the All-American team in individual events at the American Forensics Association (AFA) National Individual Events tournament held April 4-7 at University of Mississippi at Oxford.

“While the education they acquire in forensics is the real reward, national recognition as an All-American is a wonderful bonus,” said Shawn Whalen, director of forensics and the team’s coach. “Through persistence and hard work they have earned their status among the nation’s top speakers.”

Bernacchi and Lu are among 29 intercollegiate debaters nationwide, and six from California, selected All-American by CEDA.

“We are being recognized not only for our individual debate careers, but also for what we have given to the debate community,” said Bernacchi, a speech and communication studies major.

Lu, a geography and human environmental studies major, said her debating experience will benefit her greatly when she attends law school after graduating this May.

“Debate has definitely given me courage to speak in public,” she said.

Whitchurch, a speech and communication studies major, is among 16 students nationwide, and three from California, named All-American in individual events by AFA.

“Even though we get awards at every tournament, being named All-American is special because it is a congratulations, a thank you for the work we’ve done over the past years,” Whitchurch said.

The SFSU Speech and Debate Team has won many debates and individual events over the years, including the 2001 National Forensics Association championship in duo oral interpretation. The team debates particularly well against prestigious universities, defeating Stanford earlier this year, Dartmouth last year, and Harvard in 2001.

One of the largest campuses in the 23-campus California State University system, SFSU was founded in 1899 and today is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public, urban university.


NOTE: For photos of Bernacchi, Lu and Whitchurch or to schedule interviews with any of them, contact Matt Itelson of the SFSU Office of Public Affairs at (415) 338-1743 or

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Last modified April 24, 2007, by the Office of Public Affairs