Team President and Research Coordinator
Majors: English and Environmental & Sustainability Studies
Hometown: La Grange Park, Illinois
Laura joined the Speech & Debate Team with no previous forensics experience, but with plenty of spirit. In addition to being a leader on the team, Laura is also a leader in Greenthumb, UK's environmental advocacy group, in ServiceCorps, and in the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition. As a current activist and future high school English teacher, she knows that the skills built through forensics are the skills necessary to advocate for her students, her planet, and herself. Laura competes in IPDA debate, and, although she is a comprehensive speech competitor, finds her calling in interpretation.
Team Vice-President and Treasurer
Major: Secondary English Education
Hometown: Cary, Illinois
Josie was excited to join the Speech and Debate Team after having fallen in love with forensics while competing at Cary-Grove High School for four years. While initially she was apprehensive to the idea of debate, Parliamentary Debate now ranks just as high as her favorite speech events of Prose and Impromptu Speaking. She hopes to teach English abroad at international schools someday and while there's a lot more of the world she wants to see, being on Speech and Debate has shown her more of the states she had never been to, and more importantly opened her mind to ideas she had never considered.
Major: Elementary Education
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Irish joined the team in the fall of 2018 after competing for six tears at Morton Middle and Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky. Her favorite events to compete in are After Dinner Speaking and Parliamentary Debate. In addition to competing on the team, Irish also continues to be involved with her former high school team by being an assistant coach. Irish hopes to one day be an early elementary school teacher and work with students between the ages of five and seven.
Major: Public Health with a minor in Vocal Music Performance
Hometown: San Bruno, California
Rachel joined the team in fall of 2014, after founding the Everest Forensics Team in Redwood City, California. She enjoyed competing in parliamentary debate, duo, poetry, and prose. In addition to forensics, Rachel was an Undergraduate Peer Tutor Intern at the University of Kentucky William T. Young Library, a member of the Student Public Health Association, and the Provost Student Advisory Board. Rachel is currently a graduate student in public health at Yale University. She hopes to pursue her doctorate in Public Health and to improve healthcare for under-served populations.
Major: Media Arts and Studies with a minor in Communication
Hometown: Fort Irwin, California
Dianté joined the forensics team fall of 2013. As a competitor his favorite events were program oral interpretation, after dinner speaking, drama interpretation, and IPDA Debate. Dianté is currently in Orlando working as a Marketing Coordinator for Construct Two Group. He believes that forensics played a significant role in shaping his character and providing him a platform to be comfortable, confident, and unapologetic. This ultimately gave him the drive and fulfillment he needed in order to pursue many of his career endeavors. After adjusting to Orlando, Dianté hopes to give back to the speech community by judging, sponsoring, and ultimately coaching his own team.
Major: Communication with minors in Islamic Studies and Philosophy
Hometown: East Bernstadt, Kentucky
After hearing about the start of a new public speaking and debate team in the fall of 2012, Logan decided to give forensics a try. In doing so, he became one of the original six team members. His favorite events as a competitor were inform, extemp, impromptu, and communication analysis. Logan is currently pursuing his Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. He is also the director of forensics at Boyce College and coaches the Boyce College Speech and Debate Team.
Majors: Business Management and Pre-Law with a minor in History
Hometown: Schaumburg, Illinois
Matt joined the team in the fall of 2015. Previously, he competed for Jeffersontown High School, in Kentucky. His favorite events were parliamentary debate, persuasive, and informative speaking. In addition to UK Speech and Debate, Matt was heavily involved with Future Business Leaders of America-PBL, Amnesty International, the Provost Student Advisory Board, and the Student Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion. He is currently in the MBA program at UK. His future plans include working in corporate investor relations and continuing to use his voice to advocate for impactful change.
Major: Communication with a minor in Political Science
Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas
Kaylon joined the team in the fall of 2014. She had previously competed for Central Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Her favorite events were program oral interpretation and duo interpretation. In addition to being a member of UK Forensics, Kaylon was a member of the UK Black Student Union and Communications Student Association. In the future, she hopes to pursue an M.A. in Communication.
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Danville, Kentucky
Talha was recruited for the team in the fall of 2015. Before joining the team, he had been involved with the YMCA national youth and government program. When asked about why he wanted to join the team, Talha said "Forensics gives me the chance to become a better speaker and individual." He is currently completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and is active with the university's competitive debate team there.
Majors: Political Science and International Studies
Hometown: Wilmore, Kentucky
Sam joined the team in the fall of 2013. His favorite events were parliamentary debate, persuasive speaking, and extemporaneous speaking. In addition to UK Forensics, he volunteered with Kentucky Refugee Ministries. In the future, he hopes to pursue a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies and a career in international relations. Sam currently works at the The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, DC.
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Mukwonago, Wisconsin
Brynne auditioned and was selected for the team in the fall of 2013. Previously, she had been a policy debater in high school in Wisconsin. Speaking to the benefits of speech and debate, she said "The real world requires people to speak at public events or meetings and in those situations, it is best if you feel comfortable with publicly speaking." Brynne's favorite events as a competitor were extemp, radio, after dinner speaking, duo, and any or all of the debate formats.
Abel Rodriguez III
Major: Political Science with minors in Classics and Philosophy
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
Abel joined the forensics team in the fall of 2012. While competing on the team, his favorite events were impromptu speaking, poetry, and after dinner speaking. After finishing his career with the team, Abel went on to pursue his Juris Doctor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. After getting his J.D., he hopes to go on to be a litigator, and perhaps go into politics one day. He largely credits his ambitions to his experience with the forensics team. The activity not only gave him a unique skill set to pursue a career as an attorney, but a passion for the issues he hopes to address in his line of work.
Major: Psychology with minors in Cognitive Science and Jewish Studies
Hometown: Franklin, Tennessee
Veronica joined the team in the fall of 2015, having previously competed in forensics through STOA and CCT. Her favorite events are parliamentary debate, extemporaneous speaking, communication analysis, and persuasive speaking. In addition to UK Speech and Debate, Veronica is CEO of Williamson Service Corps and is part of the Lewis Honors College, UK Service Corps, and undergraduate research. Veronica plans to pursue a PhD in neuropsychology to work with gifted and learned disabled children.
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Goldsboro, North Carolina
Zach was the original team member at UK, having attended one tournament on his own before the team formally began. He was already a seasoned veteran of speech and debate at that point after competing for six years in middle and high school, which showed when he won extemp at the team's very first tournament. Currently, Zach is a master's student in the Public Policy program at the University of Kentucky. He also coaches the successful Lafayette High School forensics team in Lexington, KY.
Major: Language Studies
Hometown: Deauville, France
Léna joined the team in the fall of 2014 during her year studying abroad in the United States. Her favorite events were extemporaneous speaking, persuasive speaking, and parliamentary debate. "I have always liked when people speak charismatically and with a precise vocabulary. I also love hearing and creating complete and powerful arguments." Currently, Léna is studying at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom as she finishes her undergraduate degree. She is involved with the debate club at the University of Leicester.
Hometown: Slinger, Wisconsin
Megan joined the team in 2014 after finishing her high school career as a storyteller at Slinger High School. Her favorite events were IPDA public debate, impromptu speaking, and duo interpretation. She is pursuing her PharmD at the UK College of Pharmacy.
Hometown: Paducah, Kentucky
Stephanie joined the forensics team in Fall 2012 before graduating in December 2013. During her short time on the team her favorite events were extemporaneous speaking and prose interpretation. Since leaving the team she has received her Masters degree in communication and has started her PhD in information sciences and technology and Pennsylvania State University. In the future she hopes to become professor at a university in order to teach and continue her own research.
Major: English and Gender Studies
Hometown: Madisonville, Kentucky
Ryan joined the team in fall of 2012 as a sophomore at UK. As a competitor, Ryan most enjoyed parliamentary debate, persuasive speaking, and extemporaneous speaking. Ryan currently works with the Fund for Global Human Rights, an international NGO that partners with grassroots activists, as Development and Communications Associate. Forensics played an incredible role in helping Ryan develop communications skills and the ability to articulate complex ideas to a wide audience. While loving forensics, Ryan has retained a deep and profound resentment for ties and buttoned-up collars.
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Major: Political Communication
Hometown: Aitkin, Minnesota
After graduating from North Dakota State University, Tim came to UK to start the speech and debate team in the fall of 2012. He had previously been a competitor for the NDSU Lincoln Speech and Debate Society where his favorite events were extemporaneous speaking, persuasive speaking, and communication analysis. In addition to coaching and directing the team, he was an instructor in the School of Information Science and a doctoral student in the Communication Graduate Program. After finishing his Ph.D., Tim wants to continue teaching at a university and coaching collegiate speech and debate.