Business Consultant, Mohit Manocha — “The world became relevant.”

The world became relevant as I stumbled into debate as an 8th grader in Whitney Young’s academic center program. Little did I know about the lessons, values and fond memories debate would give me the next five years of my life.

From the very beginning, debate became a family affair for the Manocha family. My older sister Anu, who quickly became a debate star, joined debate with me while our parents regularly attended tournaments to support us.

Debate took me through an adventure of experiences. The emotions while anxiously waiting for pairings, the excitement of making it into the elimination rounds, the friends made with team members, and the thrill to hear your name during the awards ceremony, made debate a growing passion for me. As a freshman, I recall being exuberant when I shared with my team the first disadvantage I wrote, based on President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. I found myself researching evidence for my team and playing out arguments before going to a debate tournament.

It wasn’t long that I learned that success in debate required hard work and preparation. The competition and intensity of debate pushed me to learn. To stay ahead of our rival school, Morgan Park, I made sure to attend summer camps first at Northwestern University, and then at the University of Michigan.

Today I understand and am thankful for the profound impact debate had on my personal growth and development. Debate taught me to think rationally and independently. It taught me that it is okay to be inquisitive or critical of what we read and hear. Debate gave me the courage and confidence to speak in front of large crowds and to logically convert thoughts into effective and powerful rhetoric.

Even more important than speaking, debate taught me to listen and take good notes. I learned to be ready for the unexpected, and to think on my feet. I had to be prepared to respond to a new counterplan, kritik or affirmative plan that I had never heard of before.

Another positive impact debate had on me was that it made me informed about our world. Beyond reading evidence, I transitioned into formulating my own opinion and building my own principles. It is because of debate, that today I continue to desire to absorb information and stay educated and search for solutions for our world’s problems.

I realize that debate is a large reason for the success I have had in my education and career. I graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. Since then, I have been working for a consulting firm in Chicago, ZS Associates, for three years. I now realize that debate was more than an after-school activity that I did, it was an activity that continues to impact and help me in life.