Alumni Testimonials

Elise Matton
Albuquerque Academy Alumnus

Forensics was more than just an extracurricular activity for me. I’m not saying that it was my life- I was far from the most committed and talented member of my team- but it was and continues to be one of the biggest factors in shaping the person I am today.

Before Speech and Debate, I was a very shy, timid, and awkward individual who didn’t speak up all that much; however, debate forced me to change that. As a policy debater, I quickly learned that I couldn’t let my partner carry all the weight during a round and that I had to speak up and somehow stand out if I wanted to be remembered and succeed. After many years of practice and many partnerships, I finally discovered my own personal debating style that helped me in tournaments and in becoming more secure with myself.

Another huge part of Speech and Debate for me was the level of community the activity offered. I never competed in sports, so being a part of a team was very appealing. Even if I lost rounds or debated poorly, I could happily watch my teammates’ rounds and support them. There was a level of comfort and support that Forensics provided that I have yet to find elsewhere.

This sense of community was not limited to the members of my own team. Across schools, across the state, and even across the nation, there was a beautiful camaraderie that I was privileged to experience by participating in debate. Yes, we competed against one another, but in fact it was my opponents who often became my closest friends. I remain in close contact with many of them and I’m sure over the years they will continue to be some of the most memorable people in my life.

Speech and Debate is truly special because of its utter uniqueness. I’ve tried hard to think of a comparable activity that provides the support, community, competition, and outlet for sheer talent that Forensics does so well. I think my absolute favorite aspect of it is how it helps us grow, learn, and hone our quirks and personality traits. Instead of fighting against them and causing more insecurity that is so often found in those awkward teenage years, Speech and Debate uses them to make you that much better of a performer. Everyone is an individual, yet everyone is part of a team, and ultimately part of an activity, where they can be themselves.

I still feel a strong connection to debate and to my former team. These days I occasionally judge tournaments and help cut and read evidence for novices. At the very least, I rave about it to just about everyone I know, because it was such a positive experience for me. Speech and Debate isn’t really anything like you would expect it to be- it’s much, much more. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but the only way to find out is to join and GIVE IT A TRY!!

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