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Students travel from El Paso, stand out for Speech and Debate team

Jamie Salazar, Alexis Martinez and Gilbert Bauman-Flores are three students on the Falcon Forensics speech and debate team. One thing, however, sets them apart from their teammates: they all came from El Paso, Texas, in the same year.

Salazar, a junior communication and ethnic studies major, along with Martinez, a senior public relations major and Bauman-Flores, a junior theater major, were all recruited at the same time while the three were attending an invitational with El Paso Community College against the University.

Bauman-Flores said the team allowed him a better-suited outlet to hone his speech and debate skills since it is small but serious, allowing for a more personalized learning experience.

“For BG to actually recognize the fact that I do have these talents and I can compete was very assuring and satisfying for me, and a little bit humbling also,” he said. “I can do this but there’s a lot more work to go forward towards.”

The three El Paso students are some of the top members of their team. Salazar is 5th in the nation for persuasive speaking and a state champion for dramatic interpretation and rhetorical criticism, Martinez held the national champion prose interpretation title and earned runner up in persuasive speaking at the state level, while Bauman-Flores has won more 1st and 2nd place invitational titles than he can keep track of.

Despite their individual accomplishments, the teammates attribute their advancement in the team to not only their own hard work, but also their coaches and fellow teammates.

“I would definitely say that we all bring something else to the table,” Martinez said. “We’re all doing extremely well as a whole unit.”

The 16-member team isn’t the largest in the country but they are the state champions, ranking 5th in the nation. Salazar said the team will be aiming for an even higher position in the coming year.

“Bowling Green State University was one of the founding schools to start the national tournament and the national forensics community,” Salazar said. “It really just upholds our name and keeps that credibility alive for us.”

The team competes almost every weekend, traveling to face other teams from across the country. Categories at the competitions include: interpretation, a competitive acting event which involves acting out pieces of literature; public speaking, a 10-minute memorized speech with academic sources; limited preparation, in which speakers are given a limited time to prepare and give a speech; and debate events.

In addition to the competitions, Falcon Forensics members meet individually with coaches to better their skills, along with team meetings in the basement of West Hall every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for Pi Kappa Delta, the student organization the team operates in conjunction with.

Salazar said her time on the team has taught her better speaking, researching and analysis skills and they encourages students interested in the organization to attend a meeting.

“A lot of people sometimes don’t see situations through the eyes of somebody else. Speech and debate really allows you to critically think about the realities of people,” she said. “Everything that I have learned in speech and debate has helped me in every aspect of my life.”

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