The measure of a champion may be the number of medals he’s won or trophies on her bookcase. It may be the reputation for excellence that reaches far and wide. For the University of Houston Forensic Society, the measure of a champion goes beyond their six national titles and numerous first place medals won just this year. It even goes beyond the fact that they are the winningest team in all of UH history. For these members, success is measured in lives touched sharing their craft.
“We’re competitors, our goal is to do the best that we can that we can do,” said Kamil Khan, senior human resources management major and winner in the PDK national speech competition in extemporaneous category. “But we understand that our organization has a larger scope and we have a larger purpose.”
That larger purpose is the community around them. When they aren’t winning medals at national competitions—35 national championships since 2002—they’re all volunteering at area charities, mentoring area youth or hosting or judging speech competitions—one event every six days, all year long.
“What I care more about is producing leaders who can lead elsewhere,” said Mike Fain, director of the UH Forensic Society. “We have to look at what these students can do for the rest of the world.”
Area schools call on them to provide judges for speech contests or mentoring. They’ll also host or direct speech and debate tournaments and volunteer at places like Star of Hope and Depelchin Children’s Center.
For members, sharing their craft is an activity that is essential. Maria Alfaro once was a high school student who looked to the UH team for inspiration.
“Forensics has given us a sense of hope and a sense of saying there is more to life that what we know,” she said. “It’s apparent that we’ve seen it and we’re living it. And I want to be a champion of hope.”
It is a sentiment that Khan and his champion colleagues share.
“Whether we win debate tournaments or not, and we do win debate tournaments, we know that our purpose is to benefit the community around us,” he said.
Forensic champions are part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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