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Concordia University Irvine Forensics Teams Score Back-to-Back National Awards

Debate team wins fourth national title while speech team places third nationally

IRVINE, Calif. (May 3, 2021)—Concordia University Irvine’s (CUI) forensics teams—debate team and speech team—recently won their fourth national championship, and placed third nationally respectively—in separate national competitions.  

“These championships demonstrate Concordia’s commitment to remaining one of the top forensics programs on the West coast and the nation,” said Concordia University Irvine President Michael Thomas.

Concordia Irvine’s debate team edged out 18 universities to win the national title, taking first place in the championship round of the National Christian College Forensics Association Invitational in March. This marks the debate team’s fourth national championship since 2011.  Securing the national title were senior Kaitlyn Gleeson of Byron, CA and junior Sean Nowlan of Elk Grove, CA with the debate topic of the U.S. federal government enacting Medicare for all; Concordia’s team defended the argument.

“Despite the challenges of virtual competition, our debate team overcame and accomplished the goal we set out at the beginning of the year—to bring home a national championship,” said CUI Director of Forensics Amanda Ozaki-Laughton. Concordia Irvine’s debate team consistently ranks in top national collegiate competitions.

In April, the Concordia University Irvine speech team made history when it earned its first ever top three Sweepstakes Division finish earning third place in the President’s Division III at the National Forensic Association (NFA) Championship tournament. CUI’s speech team competed against Yale University, Purdue University, San Diego State University, California State University, Fullerton and over 60 other schools from around the country. Senior Damon Lawson of Battle Creek, MI, senior Andrea Aldana of Guadalajara, Mexico, and Rebekah Mehrley, a sophomore from Anaheim, CA represented CUI’s speech team. This tournament placement marks the third time in four years that CUI’s speech team has placed among the top 10 universities in the country.  

“After all speech championships were canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, placing third at the national championship tournament is a significant feat,” said CUI Director of Forensics Amanda Ozaki-Laughton. “This honor is a testament to the hard work both the students and coaches put into overcoming the challenges of virtual competition during the past year.”

About Concordia University Irvine

Concordia University Irvine (CUI) is a non-profit Christian liberal arts university governed by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). Preparing students for their vocations—their callings in life—Concordia offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs through its six schools—Arts & Sciences, Business & Economics, Christ College, Education, Health & Human Sciences, and the Townsend Institute. Nationally, its undergraduate core curriculum program, Enduring Questions & Ideas, has earned public recognition. Concordia is a U.S. News Top Tier Regional University and has been named by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the fastest growing private nonprofit master's institutions. The only NCAA DII university in Orange County, Concordia enrolls about 4,000 students annually, and is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).

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