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My experience with Fullerton College began in the fall of the 2009-2010 school year. Earlier that year, I had resigned from the United State Naval Academy, and trying to find my feet in life. My sister had attended Fullerton College the previous school year. I remembered her giving account for her experience in SP 135 Essentials of Argumentation with Doug Kresse. She thoroughly enjoyed the class and the professor. Consequently, when it came time to registering for classes, Essentials of Argumentation with Doug Kresse was at the top of my list. What followed was an amazing 2 year experience at Fullerton College, particularly with regard to the Fullerton College forensics team.
I had never competed or participated in forensics prior to my time at Fullerton College, but decided to join the FC forensics team on the first day in Essentials of Argumentation. Professor Kresse had offered extra credit for students who joined the team; plus, I had an interest in law school and thought debate would give me important necessary skills for my future interest.
When I first joined the forensics team, the program was brand new. The team was only two years old and most students were new to speech and debate and had little to no experience. Thankfully, everyone on the team was friendly and eager to help each other out. Three other students were very helpful during my first year on the team, Eric Kim, Michelle Rodriguez, Anthony Soriano. They were the three most experienced students on the team, and together with Doug, helped teach me how to debate. My first year on the team was mostly foundational, learning the ropes, and getting to know everyone on the team. My second year on the team was when magic started to happen.
By the second year, I had become good friends with the students already on the team and we had had an influx of new students. One essential characteristic (perhaps most important) for a successful debate team is good chemistry. Good chemistry on a debate team is probably more important than any individual’s skill as a debater or ability to speak. This is because debaters compete in pairs. In a debate round, everything moves extremely fast. You and your partner must be able to know what each of you is thinking and be able to anticipate the direction the other will go within the round--almost without speaking. Consequently, time spent together (as friends, as much as a team) outside the classroom, is as important as time inside the classroom. Doug gives me a lot of credit for taking a leadership role in this respect. I always remember inviting everyone to trips to Starbucks after practice on Fridays, just to talk and have fun. I remember fun nights we all had together, whether it was inviting people to my house, playing games, going to a party, going to a concert, or just simple shenanigans. I made close friends and good relationships with everyone on the team. I will not soon forget Patrick Kilroy, David Wixtrom, John Halcomb, Bronson Shamsi, Jovana Karanovic, Courtney Gamarillo, Marissa Columbus, and Kayla Cook. Even Doug Kresse is now a close friend and mentor that I greatly respect and look up to. They all became some of my closest friends that year. Though Doug credits me with playing a leadership role when it came to team unity, I really just enjoyed the people and the friendships on the team. Not to credit myself, but maybe that is just part of good leadership. And that is something Doug and the Fullerton College forensics team has taught me.
Together with Doug’s exceptional coaching, everyone’s hard work inside the classroom, and the good relationships we had outside the classroom, the Fullerton College forensics team began to excel past everyone’s expectations. On the debate side of forensics, Patrick and David were both successful the entire year, having placed in various tournaments, and winning gold at Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensics Association (PSCFA) Fall Championships in parliamentary debate. Without going into too much detail, Kayla and I had some ups and downs, with no spectacular results. But we persisted and worked hard. Our hard work paid off at PSCFA Spring Championships. Not only did Kayla and I break into elimination rounds, but we had the best record coming out of preliminary rounds, being nearly undefeated. In elimination rounds, we won every round and left the tournament with gold. On the speech side of forensics, Courtney and Jovana shared as much success as the debate side. After being successful the entire year, Courtney won two top 5 awards and a first place award for her speech. Having enjoyed similar success that year, Jovana scored two big first place awards for two different speeches. Fullerton College forensics won first place in sweepstakes. To end the year, Kayla and I, along with Courtney, Jovana, David, and Patrick competed at the California Community College Forensics Association State Championship. It was the most successful year for the Fullerton College forensics team since 2009.
Thanks to Doug Kresse and the forensics team, my time at Fullerton College was more than exceptional; it was formative, a growing experience. More than learning the essential skills anyone should have that debate teaches, debate at Fullerton College gave me life-long friendships.