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Brownson Speech and Debate Team Continues to Excel at Asynchronous and Virtual Tournaments  

Junior Sean Keegan won First Place Overall Speaker at OATS 5.

Junior Sean Keegan won First Place Overall Speaker at OATS 5.

Continuing to perform well in asynchronous and virtual tournaments, Seton Hall's Forensics Brownson Speech and Debate Team, housed within the College of Communication and the Arts, earned over 70 awards in its last three competitions.

During OATS 5 (Online Asynchronous Tournament Series 5), which was Brownson's second asynchronous tournament, the team competed against 32 schools including Northwestern University, Purdue University, Vanderbilt University, Hastings University, George Mason University, Ball State University, The University of Alabama, University of Florida and Illinois State University.

Finishing second to Western Kentucky University, past champions of the American Forensics Association and the National Forensics Association, Brownson took home 13 awards. Junior Sean Keegan won First Place Overall Speaker at this national scope event, with wins in Communication Analysis and Impromptu Speaking. Junior Emily Feazel earned Third Place Overall Speaker for her performance in Persuasive and Informative Speaking.

"Asynchronous competition has actually been a really nice supplement to our regular schedule. It's definitely a strange format since public speaking is generally expected to be in front of a live audience, but the few asynchronous tournaments have been great and were run smoothly," said Keegan. "It is also really validating to do well both individually and as a team at these asynchronous events because it's a testament to our abilities as speakers to adapt to unusual conditions on the fly."

Brownson saw another second-place finish at the New York – New Jersey State Championship Tournament held remotely by Nassau Community College on February 6. With a modest 22 entries, Brownson earned 20 individual awards and brought home seven first place wins. Wins included freshman Safa Shaikh as Top Debate Speaker, sophomore Dan O'Connor in After Dinner and Persuasive Speaking, freshman Olivia McCue in Poetry Interpretation, Keegan in Extemporaneous Speaking and Communication Analysis, and Feazel in Dramatic Interpretation.

"I would never have dreamed 35 years ago, when I founded the individual events program, that our academic competitive landscape would include small screens, audio devices and cameras," said of Catherine Zizik, M.F.A., founding director of forensics and associate professor of communication. "I am so proud of our students' abilities to adapt and transform themselves for yet another level of rhetorical excellence. Clearly, we are harvesting our treasures and investing in our hidden abilities."

The team's success continued at the virtual Virginia is for Lovers Speech Tournament hosted by James Madison University and George Mason University on Feb. 13-14. The team brought home 41 more awards and First Place Team Sweepstakes against 10 participating schools, including Rice University, Concordia University Irvine, South Dakota State University, Lafayette College and Bradley University.

On the first day of the tournament, Keegan and Feazel earned first and second place Overall Speakers, respectively. The team had six first place finishes from sophomore Meg Gawron in Extemporaneous Speaking, junior Dana Bella in Impromptu Speaking, sophomore Dan O'Connor in Persuasive Speaking, Feazel in Informative Speaking, senior and team captain Brian Sumereau and Gawron in Dramatic Duo, and Feazel in Dramatic Interpretation. 

Due to budget considerations, Sumereau competed solo at the second day of the tournament. He brought home five awards and earned first place Overall Speaker of the weekend.

"These accolades represent so much more than just rankings at a competition. At the core of our program is the development and practice of critical thinking, logic, research, creativity, oral acuity, empathy and effective listening," said Zizik. "It is a joy to have a group of motivated students skillfully  advocate their messages across the nation as they represent Seton Hall with grace and dignity."

Brownson Forensics Speech and Debate team is known for its tradition of rhetorical excellence, stemming back over 75 years. The team benefits from the guidance of head coach Sam Ohrenberger-Hopkins, M.A., lecturer of communication.

To learn more about the Brownson Speech and Debate team, visit here »

Categories: Education , Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Catherine Zizik
  • (862) 253-7886
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