Florida A&M University’s Speech and Debate team is working hard to prepare for it’s next competition at Tallahassee Community College October 21-23. Unbeknownst to many people, FAMU began a Speech and Debate team three years ago. The Speech and Debate team has competed in two states under the American Forensics Association.
According to Americanforensics.org, teams who compete under the AFA are the professional organization for the many men and women who train American students in the skills of public speaking and study the use of reasoned discourse in public life.
“We competed at TCC last year,” said Melanie White, speech and debate team advisor. White mentions at competitions they compete against top schools such as Florida State University, University of Florida, and the University of Texas.
While the FAMU Speech and Debate Team hasn’t been competing as long as its competition, the students are quickly trying to build a reputation for themselves.
White, a speech professor at FAMU competed when she was in college. While teaching her speech classes at FAMU she saw potential in many of her students and decided to create a team. Since the establishment of the team four members have placed third or higher in competitions against more experienced schools.
Tyrinika Washington, 20, a third year criminal justice major from Fort Worth, Texas has been a member for a short period of time but has already benefited from the team.
“I joined the team because I enjoy performing. The only problem was that I get really nervous. Speech and debate is helping me to get over my nerves,” said Washington. “Speech and debate has helped me to build confidence in my speaking. Normally when a professor would call on me I would get nervous and shy away. Now I am more confident and I do not have a problem projecting my voice.”
White said she loves how the team has come together. Each year, the Speech and Debate Team has a spring showcase to perform for the student body. Akia Sembly, 19, second year theatre major from Lithonia, Georgia joined the team after seeing the showcase.
“Speech and Debate Team has acted as a supplement to my theatre major because I am always looking for more opportunities to put myself forward,” Sembly said. Both Washington and Sembly will be competing at the TCC competition.
“The thing I enjoy most about the team is the relationships we develop. I really enjoy the genuine relationship that everyone has toward each other. We are a family. We cry together and we rejoice together,” said Washington. In the near future White would like the team to become a larger part of FAMU and possibly partner up with SGA for student recruiting events.
White encourages students to support their rattlers by attending showcases and spreading the word to other students about the team. Students interested in joining the Speech and Debate Team should visit the AFA website at americanforensics.org for more information.