Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

WT Forensics Student Places Third in Nation; Second Student Wins Prestigious Grant


CANYON, Texas — A West Texas A&M University forensics team member placed third in the nation at the American Forensic Association National Speech Tournament, and another team member earned a prestigious grant.

Isaac Doty, a senior sociology major from Lubbock, placed third in the nation in communication analysis. Alejandro Mata, a senior political science major from Hereford, won a $5,000 honorarium from the Dr. Bruce Manchester Scholar Series, for intensive study and research.

The team, which ranked 21st overall, competed in a range of events including prose, persuasion, informative, extemporaneous speaking, and dramatic interpretation. Members who qualified for and competed at the national competition also included Abigail Stilwell, a senior psychology major from Henrietta; Hannah Kamer, a junior psychology major from Sweetwater; and Willa Brackin, a freshman digital communication and media major from Thicket.

The national tournament took place at University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire from April 6 to 8.

“I’ve been most impressed with this team’s dedication to advocacy and their willingness to expand their horizons,” said Dr. Kelsey Abele, assistant professor of communication studies and director of forensics. “We have found a balance of being competitive and also embracing our community around us.”

The tournament is a platform for speech education at the college level, bringing together students from across the nation to compete for national championships in multiple events.

Doty also competed in informative speaking, extemporaneous speaking and after dinner speaking. Mata competed in prose interpretation, impromptu speaking, persuasive speaking, extemporaneous speaking, communication analysis, and drama interpretation. Stilwell competed in prose interpretation, persuasive speaking, communication analysis and after dinner speaking. Kamer competed in prose interpretation, impromptu speaking, after dinner speaking and poetry interpretation. Brackin competed in impromptu speaking, extemporaneous speaking and program oral interpretation.

“A national final is something I’ve been working towards in some form or another for seven years, so accomplishing that was very meaningful for me,” Doty said.

Mata said his project on code switching in collegiate forensics promises to enrich other students’ understanding of communication within competitive speech.

“I am excited to serve a community that has given me countless stories, opportunities, and friends,” Mata said. “Through my research, I hope to make the forensics community a better experience for all competitors no matter their background.”

The Manchester Scholar grant underscores the commitment of the AFA-NST to support scholarly endeavors in forensics and encourages research that contributes to the advancement of communication studies.

The WT Forensics Team offers opportunities for students to exhibit outstanding abilities and accomplishments, one of the key principles of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised nearly $160 million.


Photo: West Texas A&M University Forensics Team members are, from left, Willa Brackin, Hannah Kamer, Abigail Stillwell, Isaac Doty and Alejandro Mata.

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