The Leader Advancement Scholar Cohort is required to take several classes each semester the first two years here at CMU. Introduction to Debate was my first time experiencing the logistics and skills on how to properly handle a debate. This class was definitely a way for myself to step outside my comfort zone. Public speaking has been a weakness of mine ever since I was very young. Just the thought of forcing myself to speak in front of a crowd makes me break out in hives. You would assume that since I’ve been a dancer my whole life, that crowds do not scare me. I still get knots in my stomach and sweaty, shaky hands right before I perform. On the first day of class, Dr. Hillman explained that we will be assigned three debates that we will be graded on in front of the entire class. I was feeling the anxiety and nerves hit me when I was in my seat hearing him talk about that especially that each person would speak for at least 3-5 minutes per debate. I wanted to take a step back and realize that this class will let me learn new skills and capabilities of public speaking that I thought I didn’t have.
The most challenging part of our debates was that sometimes we would be assigned a side that we did not believe in or could have supportive arguments towards the topic. It was hard at first to adjust to arguing with someone in front of the entire class. After every debate, I learned more ways to improve myself as a speaker and became more comfortable each time speaking in front of the class. The very first debate we did, was a nightmare. I was so nervous that I finished almost a whole minute than I was supposed to. My voice was shaky, and I could not seem to calm myself down. As the debates went on, it was easier and easier for me to debate in front of class. I am proud of the progress I made throughout the entire semester of Debate and I overcame my fears. The skills I learned from debate will be beneficial for me for my future and career.