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The Pi Kappa Delta National Honor Society for competitive forensics hosts one of the largest speech and debate competitions in the country. It draws hundreds of competitors from colleges and universities across the United States, including CC’s own speech and debate team.
At this year’s competition, the society inducted ten students as All-Americans including Jacob Kirksey ’15, the captain of the speech and debate team at CC. Selection as an All-American is the highest honor awarded at the national tournament, recognizing outstanding seniors with successful careers in forensics, and strong academic and service backgrounds.
“I have never witnessed a dual discipline and motivation for the arts and communication like I’ve seen in this young man over his four years at CC. Jacob’s ruthless determination to present only the best product is evidenced by scrapping a speech the night before competition and re-writing an entire persuasive just because the former ‘wasn’t good enough,’” said Sarah Hinkle, CC speech and debate coach.
He participated at the national level in speech and debate in each of his four years at CC, competing in a variety of events from team debates, limited preparation speaking on current event topics, prepared platform speeches, and acting. Kirksey says his strongest event is impromptu speaking, in which participants have two minutes to prepare a five-minute speech that interprets a given quotation, asserts a thesis, and gives examples on how to apply the quotation to daily life. He focused also on the after-dinner speaking event, preparing a ten-minute speech that incorporates humor into a serious topic and is persuasive in nature. He chose color-blindness and the Black Lives Matter movement for his topic this year.
“Winning and traveling across the country is wonderful, but the best part of competing is discovering your own personal growth,” Kirksey said of his experience on the team. “Every tournament you are pushed to do even better than you did before, and this creates a very important routine for always bettering yourself.”
Earlier this year, Kirksey and his partner reached the quarterfinals of the Pan American Universities Debate Championship tournament. They competed against hundreds of schools competing from across the Western Hemisphere, the equivalent of reaching a medaling heat of the Pan American Games.
“What has impressed me about Jacob is not his competitive success, as CC has a long history of successful speech and debate students, but his willingness to extend his expertise to the community and enrich the lives of young people in Colorado Springs,” said Julian Plaza, one of CC’s speech and debate coaches.
Kirksey also used the skillset he developed through forensics competitions to inspire and start his own company. Kids Are Dramatic is a social justice theatre company that works with Title I public schools, which include higher numbers of at-risk students, and with nonprofits and after-school programs, to create process-oriented drama classes for students to express themselves. He also serves as advocacy director at the local nonprofit group Imagination Celebration where he networks with professionals in the Pikes Peak Region to develop and evaluate educational programs.
Kirksey, a double major in economics and education, began his debate career as a high schooler in Lubbock, Texas, where he initially found his passion for the event. “Speech and debate created a space for me to succeed in high school and see my potential. It forced me to be confident and enhances nearly ever aspect of my academic and professional life.”
After graduation in May, Kirksey will begin the education policy doctorate program at the University of California-Santa Barbara. “If I didn’t have the skillset I developed and enhanced through speech and debate, I wouldn’t be as established and confident in my work. Hopefully I’ll be a professor at age 26.”
More than 100 students traveled across the country and around the globe, from the Uganda Village Project to Venetucci Farm, gaining real-world experience, knowledge, and inspiration for the impact they’ll have now, and after leaving CC.
Megan Gillespie ’16, sociology major, spent her summer at an unpaid internship in Denver with the Lutheran Family Services refugee program. She spent more than an hour at the CC Internship Experience Forum explaining her work to fellow students and other members of the CC community, before rotating out and allowing other students their opportunity to share. The organization Gillespie worked with assists families and individuals fleeing the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and many other countries, arriving in the United States without access to resources, embarking on a very uncertain journey. Gillespie helped pair families with cultural mentors, connected them with social services, and assisted them in developing job skills. She said the internship is also relevant to her thesis work on refugees and the implications and concept of residential segregation, which is relocating families from the same cultural backgrounds in the same neighborhoods. “Throughout the summer, I was asking the question, ‘are we perpetuating the issue, and is it necessary?’” she said of placing refugee families in the United States. Gillespie continues the work on campus, leading the Refugee Assistance Program service group at CC.
Funding provided by the college enabled students to accept internships, regardless of any financial barriers or impacts. “The CC community at large contributed resources to help fill students’ financial gaps, allowing them the opportunity to participate in unpaid or underpaid internship opportunities over the summer,” said Megan Nicklaus, director of the Career Center. The CC Internship Experience Forum provided an opportunity for those students to share their experiences with the campus community.
The Board of Trustees was on campus Feb. 20-22 for its annual February meeting. There was much enthusiasm about the progress we are making as a college community. The board approved several items including:
- The 2014-15 budget, setting tuition and fees at $46,410. For students living on the campus, the comprehensive fee will be $57,162, with a standard double room rate of $6,176 and the meal plan C rate of $4,576.
- Tenure and promotion for four faculty members. Congratulations!
- Pedro de Araujo, assistant professor of economics and business
- Peggy Daugherty, assistant professor of chemistry
- Stefan Erickson, assistant professor of mathematics
- Peter Wright, assistant professor of religion
- Tenure for one faculty member: Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Shawn Womack. Congratulations Shawn!
- Emeritus status for retired Professor of Political Science Curtis Cook.
- The installation of solar panels on top of Cornerstone and El Pomar Sports Center.
In addition to the work done on the four standing committees of Audit; Governance; Investment; and Budget, Buildings and Grounds, the trustees worked with campus leaders on strategic projects. As a reminder, this year’s strategic project teams are Campaign Planning; Library Renovation; Campus Master Plan/Communication Plan; and Environmental Stewardship and Innovation.
The board heard presentations on campus safety, our newly-revised Half Block, and faculty-student research collaboration and enjoyed dinner with members of the Faculty Executive Committee. Thanks to all who helped make the board meeting a success.
Chris Coulter, director of facilities services, recently was inducted into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame. Just over a quarter of a century ago, Coulter played on the 1986-87 State Champion Rampart High School basketball team that went undefeated, 24-0, to win the state title.
The team achieved the impossible: perfection. The Rampart boy’s team chalked up a remarkable 24-0 record, beating Thompson Valley, 42-38 in the state 3A championship game. The Rampart team won their games by an average of 17 points and earned a team grade point average of 3.14, showing their prowess on and off the court. In Coulter’s two years playing with the state champion team, the team posted a 46-2 record.
Coulter is currently a varsity coach in the Pine Creek High School boy’s football program. They have a 10-2 record and are playing in the 4A state semifinals against Monarch High School this weekend.
Coulter enjoys coaching youth sports, especially football and basketball, and has been coaching the same group of eighth-graders since they were in the third grade.
Members of the CC’s Registrar’s Office celebrate Halloween in style! Shown here are, front row, Candace Santa Maria; second row, Karen Britton, Donna Engle, Christine Brett, and Cecelia Vigil; and back row, Phil Apodaca. They received third place in the Halloween costume contest held in Bemis Hall. Photo courtesy Rita Zook.