As their first semester comes to a close, the Brownson Speech and Debate team's freshmen reflect on their awards they have earned.
Most recently, the Seton Hall team won second place team sweepstakes at the Annual Charity Bowl Fall Swing Tournament at Dutchess Community College, donating their award earnings to their chosen charity: the California Wildfire Fund.
The team had a tie for first place overall speaker, awarded to sophomore Brian Sumereau and freshman Dana Bell. Bell also earned first place in Prose Interpretation and fifth in Extemporaneous Speaking.
Second place awards were given to Freshman Aaron Hernandez for Extemporaneous Speaking, and freshman Emily Feazel for Prose.
The four freshmen additions are Sean Keegan, Dana Bell, Emily Feazel and Aaron Hernandez.
Keegan, a Public Relations major from New Jersey, found Seton Hall and Brownson as a way to help him pursue all of his interests coming into college without needing to compromise, as he found he would have had to at other colleges. His high school background of musicals and Model UN club led him to speech and debate, in addition to his goals of becoming a speechwriter.
"Being a part of the team has exceeded all my expectations. Every day I am grateful for the genuine sense of community and caring on the team," Keegan said. "Everyone on the team is not only committed to their own success, but also the success of every other teammate."
Hernandez, from Wharton, TX, started as an international relations and diplomacy major, but decided public relations was the best fit for him. He chose Seton Hall and Brownson because, "I wanted to go to a school with an established debate program, but the difference between Seton Hall and other schools is that SHU doesn't compete for trophies. The students on the team care more about the messages and issues that people will take out of the room."
Dana Bell from California is a political science major. She has been involved in competitive speech since eighth grade, and she loves it because, as she stated, "It's an amazing curricular with a fantastic ability to connect you with people you would have no opportunity to meet otherwise. It also develops one's range of communication capabilities in a way few other outlets are able to do."
Feazel, from Millstadt, IL, is a communication major who participated in speech and theater throughout high school. She stated, "Everyone on this team is so supportive and helpful and genuine and I love them all with my whole heart. Recently my After Dinner Speech about felony disenfranchisement qualified to go to nationals, which means I get to share a message that I'm very passionate about with more people, and I couldn't be happier. Speech is a large time commitment, but I wouldn't want to spend my time doing anything else. This is my passion and I’m so unbelievably lucky that I get an opportunity to pursue that in a setting like this one."
An important addition to any team is its captains and seniors. Jocelyn Rogalo, senior and co-captain of the team, has transitioned into a mentorship role this semester to help the newer members of the team build up their skills.
"Every week, month, year, the team's dynamic changes," said Rogalo. "We change as people, and every year is drastically different from the last. Each member brings a new life to the team, we work as a unit in a way that feels like we must have known each other longer than a few short months. They are dedicated, compassionate, and push us as a team to do better. Jon and I could not be more proud of the work they do and are honored to lead them as seniors and co-captains."
Team Director Catherine Zizik, associate professor of communication in the College of Communication and the Arts stated, "It is such a pleasure for me to watch these students compete. Their skillful, eloquent efforts produce amazing results in competition! We hold our team to high standards, and these students really reflect the caliber of skill that Seton Hall expects from its team members."
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