Student Speaker Bureau-Speech and Debate Team

The Howard Payne University Speech and Debate Team–Student Speaker Bureau–is a group of students from all majors and disciplines at HPU who compete at intercollegiate speech and debate tournaments, host our own high school UIL speech and debate workshops, adjudicate elementary, middle and high school UIL tournaments, and emcee HPU and area public events. We are members of the National Christian College Forensics Association (NCCFA), the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association (TIFA), the American Forensics Association (AFA), the National Forensics Association (NFA), and the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA). The team also competes in World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) tournaments and the International Public Debate Association (IPDA).

2017-2018 SSB Team Members


Christopher Freeland, Team Captain

HPU Junior

Christopher Freeland serves as the Student Speaker Bureau Team Captain and draws from his many years of Cross-Examination and Parliamentary debate. In UIL CX Debate, Freeland qualified in the State octo-finals as District Champion. In the March 2017 National Christian College Forensics Association national tournament, Freeland ranked 7th NPDA JV Speaker and debated in the Finals JV round of NPDA Debate. Freeland also participates in extemporaneous and impromptu speaking as well as prose and poetry interpretation.
Hometown: Bangs, Texas
Major: Theatre Education
Career Plans: Teach high-school-level theatre and direct UIL speech and debate programs


Brooklyn Britton

HPU Sophomore

Brooklyn Britton is a sophomore and a second-year SSB member. Brooklyn is a seasoned interpretation competitor, placing at nationals in duo interpretation her freshman year. In high school, she advanced to regionals in prose both her sophomore and senior years. This year she is branching out into debate for the first time. She loves being a part of Student Speaker Bureau. She is a sophomore senator for Student Government Association, a member of Alpha Psi Omega and takes part in all of the theatre productions on campus.
Hometown: Brownwood, Texas
Major: Theatre, Minors: English and history
Career plans: Graduate school in museum and classic culture studies with hopes to one day be a museum director or curator



Esmerelda “Esme” Maldonado

HPU Freshman

Esme Maldonado is a freshman who comes to HPU with extensive high school speech and debate experience. Esme was a four-year high school cross examination debater and competed in Congress for four years. She also competed in both persuasive and informative speaking.
Hometown: Whitney, Texas
Major: Social Science Jurisprudence, Communication and Academy
Career Plans: Corporate law


Lucy Manning

HPU Freshman

Lucy comes to HPU with experience in the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association, with experience in team policy debate and two years of Lincoln Douglas debate. She has also performed speeches in the persuasive, original, duo, informative and biographical narrative categories, qualifying to state on multiple occasions. Lucy’s best debate ranking was fourth place in a tournament of about 200 competitors.
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Major: Communication & Public Policy
Career plans: Legislative work


Madison Neal

HPU Sophomore

Madison (Madi) Neal competed in Congressional Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking, Public Forum Debate and CX Debate in high school. She is continuing her speech and debate career by competing in Impromptu Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking and Parliamentary Debate. In Fall 2016 she placed 3rd in Novice Impromptu speaking at the fall Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association tournament. At the National Christian College Forensics Association national tournament in Spring 2017, Madi was a parliamentary debate semi-finalist. “Being on the Student Speaker Bureau with Dr. Julie Welker has been a blessing,” she said. “She is both an inspiring mentor and a mom to us.”
Hometown: Chandler, Texas
Major: Communication and Social Science (Jurisprudence)
Minor: English
Career Plans: Immigration law


Tyler Olin

HPU Junior

Tyler Olin is in his second year on HPU’s speech and debate team. He had three years’ experience of team policy debate in high school, placing at the regional qualifiers meet his senior year. In college he has been competing well, being an octafinalist at a regional tournament in Texas, semifinalist at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association Fall Championship and a finalist in junior varsity at the National Christian College Forensics Association national championship. He also achieved a semifinalist finish in individual parliamentary debate at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association Fall Championship.
Hometown: Howe
Major: social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy
Career plans: Law school


Aimee Orozco

HPU Senior

Aimee Orozco is in her third year of collegiate speech and debate competition. Aimee has competed in both debate and speech events. She enjoys individual debate the most and branched out into prose last year.
Hometown: Shepherd
Major: Communication, Minors: Spanish and Journalism
Career plans: Radio/TV broadcaster

How to Get Involved

Competitive speech and debate is central to the education mission of our university–preparing students to be of service to others and functional participants in a democratic society. “Let your speech always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:6) Students compete in 11 individual events, NPDA, WUDC, and IPDA debates.

The purpose of competitive speech and debate is to improve students’ abilities by developing strong public speaking/performance skills, creating a positive team atmosphere, maintain healthy competitive Christian attitudes and respectively representing Howard Payne University. Students can obtain course credit for competitive speech activities by enrolling in COM 1111 Student Speaker Bureau: Speech and Debate.

Who can be a member? Tryouts are held each semester for any student who is in good academic standing with Howard Payne University. Students from any major are invited to audition. Auditions and acceptance onto the team are prerequisites for enrolling in COM 1111 Student Speaker Bureau: Speech and Debate. Each student on SSB receives a scholarship commensurate with experience and level of competition.

When does the Speech/Debate season start? Competitions generally start in September and run through early April.

Where does the Forensics Team travel? The HPU speech and debate team attends 3-4 tournaments each semester including the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debate Tournament in Oxford, England, in the fall and the National Christian College Forensics Invitational held each spring.

Students compete in the following events:

Individual events: persuasive speaking, informative speaking, extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking, poetry interpretation, prose interpretation, communication analysis, after-dinner speaking, program oral interpretation, and dramatic duo


Ready to get in this picture?
Contact Dr. Julie Welker, Director of SSB, today!

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