The Glendale Community College (GCC) Speech and Debate Team is once again being celebrated for achievements on the national stage. At the 92nd Phi Rho Pi National Tournament, a junior college national tournament, the competition was fierce.
For six days last week, four GCC students represented the Maricopa Community College District at the tournament. Lindsay Gagnon, Samantha Smithart, Denim Glasheen, and Jessica Ramirez competed in debate, public address and oral interpretation events. Team captain Lindsay Gagnon advanced to the final rounds in International Public Debate Association-style (IPDA), earning a Bronze award. IPDA's emphasis is on effective communication and persuasion with limited prep time.
More than the competition, the experience impacts students in wide, life-long ways – both personally and professionally.
"Joining the speech and debate team provides students an opportunity to travel to different parts of the country and develop relationships with students at tournaments,” said Dr. Pam Joraanstad, Department Chair for Glendale Community College’s Communication and World Languages Department. “The activity gives students a place to belong as they develop their skills in terms of thinking on their feet and constructing logical arguments. These skills impact students for the rest of their lives, giving them confidence to succeed. I was a debater. I give all the credit to the activity for what I am today."
Unfortunately, the students were unable to travel this year, so they had the added pressure of performing via wifi. Last year, in March, many students saw their forensics seasons end swiftly and with no notice. All of their hard work would not get a chance to be rewarded or seen on a national level. As a coach, Dr. Joraanstad was devastated for the GCC team as well as the rest of the community college speech and debate community. The 2021 remote experience came with a fair share of challenges, but the students showed up with positive attitudes and a desire to learn.
“It continues to amaze me how quickly the speech and debate community adapted to the pandemic to allow our students to compete throughout the year in this beneficial activity,” said Dr. Joraanstad.
The Phi Rho Pi National Tournament is a junior college national tournament. Phi Rho Pi was established in 1929 and it is one of the oldest forensics organizations in the United States. And until 2020/1, the annual competition had only been disrupted once during WWII.