As I begin my last semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I wonder if I ever would have gone to college if it weren’t for the Chicago Debate League.
Going into high school on the south side of Chicago, I was a C-average student, barely getting by. I had a vague notion that I might want to go to college. But I wasn’t a very good student and I was hanging out with kids who would probably drop out someday.
Then a teacher convinced me to try debate. For the first time, I felt encouraged to excel at something academic—and I discovered I could do it! Debate gave me direction I didn’t have before. It introduced me to a world of politics, policy, and injustices—and it made me eager to learn more.
My coaches saw potential in me that I didn’t know I had, and they made me team captain. I worked hard to make my coaches proud and to be a great example to younger debaters. My grades improved, and I started taking advanced courses.
Starting high school, no one expected me to go to college, but now I’m almost a college graduate and I’m thinking about a career as a lawyer. Debate gave me that ambition.
Debate changed everything for me.
I am so grateful to the Chicago Debate Commission for providing this amazing experience. I loved working last summer at the CDC, and I participate as a debate judge or training assistant whenever I can to help other kids debate.