Speech and Debate Team is talking point for GCU excellence

June 06, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

GCU senior Ashlyn Tupper

GCU graduate Ashlyn Tupper

(Editor’s note: This story is from the May 2016 issue of GCU Today Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.)

Story and photo by Laurie Merrill
GCU Today Magazine

When Ashlyn Tupper was a freshman in 2012, Grand Canyon University didn’t have a speech and debate team, and that didn’t faze her.

After all, she had logged four years of speech and debate at North Pointe Preparatory high school in Phoenix, and she was ready to end that chapter of her life.

My, have things changed! Four years later, not only does GCU have a speech and debate team that is rocking the competition, but Tupper, the only senior, is one of the keys to its success.

So what changed her mind?

In the spring of 2014, six months after College of Humanities and Social Sciences instructor Barry Regan started GCU’s first Speech and Debate Team, Tupper found herself in his public speaking class.

She had no idea he was the team’s director. So when he asked students to talk about themselves, Tupper thought nothing of discussing her years competing in speech during high school.

“He spent the rest of the semester talking me into joining the team,” Tupper said.

It wasn’t until the fall of 2014 — and after much prayer — that Tupper attended a practice.

“I just felt suddenly this clarity that this is where I belong and need to be. It was a community I hadn’t found in two years at GCU,” Tupper said. “I found my peeps.”

Since then, the team has grown from about a dozen students to more than 20, and the coaching staff has more than doubled.

The team collected a cornucopia of titles this year. It finished No. 25 in the nation of out 199 in parliamentary debate. It was Division III champion in the 2016 Christian College Forensic Invitational. And, in perhaps the highest honor, GCU was selected to host the 2017 National Christian College Forensics Invitational.

Tupper believes GCU’s shiny new national reputation will attract students who want to compete in speech and debate.

“I think people will come here for us,” she said.

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or laurie.merrill@gcu.edu. 

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