Pacific debaters enjoy spotlight with nation’s best
University of the Pacific senior Ravi Prasad and first-year student Estefany Torres competed as two of the best college debaters in the country in a special showcase of the National Forensics Association (NFA).
The NFA National Championship tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the NFA Executive Council still wanted to celebrate the best seniors and novices of the season with Performances of Distinction, an online, recorded, single speech or debate to represent the 2019–20 season. From a nationwide pool of peer applicants, Prasad competed in the senior division and Torres competed in the novice.
“Ravi and Estefany are being recognized for their competitive success this year and the impact they have had in their region and community,” said Pacific Speech and Debate Team Director Steven Farias.
Prasad, a political science major who graduated magna cum laude, was one of four seniors chosen along with debaters from Lafayette College, University of Nebraska, Lincoln and Western Kentucky University.
Torres, who also is majoring in political science, was one of two novices chosen and debated a student from Lafayette College.
The pair was selected for their debating skill and impact on the community. Both promoted camaraderie and teamwork, helping not just their teammates, but competitors from other schools to develop their debate skills, Farias said. “They embraced learning as much as competitive success, identifying listening and taking feedback as key aspects of community building.”
Prasad also noted that as a person with autism, he represents overlooked and underrepresented students.
“Having a willingness to listen allows us to forge friendships with those we disagree, develop a sense of empathy towards the experiences of others and allows us all to realize that we have more in common then we think,” he said.
Torres said that as a bilingual student who works to afford college, she was an example of students overcoming racial, gender and financial obstacles. She also said that though she was a novice, she felt empowered to help her team.
“I am lucky to be part of a team where there is an emphasis to succeed and a sense of belonging,” Torres said.