WT Student Places Top 12 in Nation at Forensics Competition


CANYON, Texas—A West Texas A&M University student is a national semifinalist in forensics.

Isaac Doty, a junior sociology major from Lubbock, placed in the top 12 in communication analysis at the recent American Forensic Association National Speech Tournament in California.

“Placing top 12 in the nation felt extremely rewarding,” Doty said. “As the national tournament, AFA is the culmination of a year’s work, a chance to show what I’ve created.”

Communication analysis involves an original speech that evaluates a communication event, such as a speech or poem, through the use of rhetorical principles.

“You look at a piece of communication through a model or a lens,” said Dr. Kelsey Abele, director of forensics and assistant professor of communication. “Isaac’s speech is about looking at rhetorics of disability. In political campaigns—specifically, John Fetterman and Greg Abbott’s political campaigns, both of whom identify as disabled in different ways. But he is using a model or a piece of communication to investigate that.”

Doty is in his second year on the WT forensics team, after competing for four years at Lubbock High School.

“To be in the top 12 students in the country in the event that most parallels rhetorical research in communication studies is an incredible achievement as a sophomore,” Abele said.

The AFA tournament was held in Santa Ana, California, and Doty competed against college students from nine districts around the nation.

“Competing at AFA was such a fun and fulfilling experience,” Doty said. “In addition to competitive success, I was able to travel with my team and see friends from other schools.”

“Isaac has always been an intuitive student to coach,” Abele said. “He thinks deeply and deliberately about the message he is trying to communicate and what kinds of responses he wants the audience to have.”

The WT Forensics Team is housed within the Department of Communication in the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts & Humanities.

Strength in core programs and distinctive competencies is a key mission of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.