Honors Students Shine on the Speech and Debate Team

By Gabriela Marrama

GCU students debating

Take your passions and pursue them with everything you have. For Grand Canyon University Honors College students Kara Sutton and Matthew Calderwood, they found their place right at home on the GCU Speech and Debate Team.

Sutton, a senior studying English for secondary education, has been a member of the debate team since her freshman year at GCU. Debate has always been a large part of Sutton’s life and she competed on the homeschool speech and debate team for five years before coming to college.

Coming to GCU, Sutton knew she wanted to be involved on campus while continuing to pursue her passion for speech and debate. After contacting Speech and Debate Team coach, College of Humanities and Social Sciences faculty member Barry Regan, Sutton found her place on the team as a freshman.

“Communication is valuable to any job; you need to be able to communicate ideas to someone,” Sutton said. “Being in debate, you have the opportunity to interact with many different people with different worldviews.” Sutton encourages other students to join the Speech and Debate Team because it provides a chance to keep up with current events, hear about other beliefs and learn how to argue from different sides. Sutton shares that “sometimes you are asked to debate something you don’t agree with and it expands your knowledge on a certain topic.”

Sutton shares, “Speech and debate has impacted my experience in the Honors College tremendously. I have learned about others’ experiences through researching for the academic activity, and I have been able to share these in my honors classes as well as examine arguments at a much deeper level with my peers in the Honors College.”

As for Calderwood, a freshman studying government with an emphasis in legal studies, speech and debate has been a part of his life since he was 12 years-old. Growing up with social anxiety and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, Calderwood used speech and debate as a way to improve his communication skills and interact in a professional manner.

After training for years in high school, Calderwood knew that he wanted to continue his passion for speech and debate in college. When looking for a college to attend, Calderwood searched for a school that had a successful Speech and Debate Team, with potential to be ranked at a national level. Knowing that GCU’s team was on the rise and admiring the commitment by the team members, Calderwood chose to attend GCU and try out for the team.

Debate has helped Calderwood personally and academically. “Debate helps me be able to put on some killer presentations. Being part of the Honors Symposium was not as intimidating due to the fact that that I have hundreds of hours in presentation experience.” Being on the Speech and Debate Team has shaped Calderwood’s freshman year and he is excited to grow and learn in the years to come.

As a government and legal studies major, Calderwood explains, “My future will involve a significant amount of interpersonal communication and an understanding of critical analysis concerning policy; thus, debate sharpens me for my future very well.”

Find your passions and pursue them. Get involved and work diligently to create a better future for yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone and finding a new way to challenge yourself each day. For Sutton and Calderwood, this meant joining the Speech and Debate Team. What will you do?

Make the most of your academic experience by making the Honors College part of your GCU experience. Learn more about our experiential learning opportunities by visiting our website or contacting us using the Request More Information form.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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