A collection of testimonials from former competitors on the Lafayette College Forensics Society.

Jeremy Bennett
Class of 2005 – Neuroscience
Temple University School of Medicine
Attending Physician
Assistant Clinical Professor, The Commonwealth Medical College

A practiced command of communication skills is a powerful advantage in almost every professional career.  In my case, the practice of medicine, my experiences in speech and debate prepared me to excel in areas where most of my peers still stumble.  The ability to efficiently distill fine meaning from the spoken and written word makes the reasoning and analysis sections of the Medical College Admission Test a breeze (scoring the best possible grade on both sections of the test).

Benji Berlow
Class of 2006 – Psychology, Jewish Studies
Director of Jewish Student Life at Carnegie Mellon University

As a psych major, I first noticed that the competitions changed the way I thought on my feet – I learned how to listen to a brand new argument, cross-reference it with material I researched, and organize a response point for point with only 1-2 minutes of prep time.  When my colleagues ask me how I learned how to do that kind of research, I tell them, “I was on the Lafayette Forensics team – it’s just what we did.”

Colby Block
Class of 2006 – Constitutional Law and Society, Theatre (minor)
Vanderbilt University School of Law
Litigation Associate at Wyant, Tarrant and Combs in Nashville, TN

What seems daunting to most—standing up in front of strangers, speaking on topics about which you often know very little, with limited to no preparation—became an activity I engage in with pleasure.  In law school, not only were my oral advocacy skills ahead of many of my peers, I also quickly picked up the legal writing style that seemed so foreign to others (forensics taught me how to write clearly and purposefully).

Joe Borland
Class of 2006 – Government and Law
Suffolk University School of Law

I have not made a more impactful decision on my life than the one to join Lafayette Forensics. The benefits I have received from the experience are incalculable.

In my third year of law school I took a trial advocacy class and I was shocked when over half of my class was frightened to express themselves in a structured manner in front of the professor and their peers when to me it had become old hat.  When I began the practice of law I spoke with seasoned attorneys who were afraid to litigate in court because it required them to speak in public.

Kirtika Challa
Class of 2012 – Engineering, Economics
Certificate in Financial Policy and Analysis
Trader at Morgan Stanley

As a freshmen in college, having come to the US from India for the first time at the age of 17 I was in for a lot of change.  Lafayette’s Forensics team had a great reputation on campus.  I remember my first practice session. I was a nervous wreck, speaking at twice MY normal speed (which was already pretty fast), mumbling my words, using a lot of “umms” and “likes.” Add my accent to the mix and you could barely make head and tails of what I was saying. I still remember one of the first lessons I learned that day. This is what the Coach said: “You have a naturally fast pace… probably a function of your native language, so I always want you to remember this: I want you to aim for the speaking pace that makes you feel like you are talking in slow motion.” To this date, I remind myself of that every other day (and also quietly chuckle thinking back to that day ☺).  This lesson, and many other from Forensics, helped to eventually land me my job as a Trader at Morgan Stanley today.

Kyle DeCant
Class of 2010 – Government and Law, Philosophy
American University School of Law

Throughout law school, I looked back on my experiences in college when preparing oral arguments for class, and doing so helped me to prepare those arguments quickly and deliver them confidently.

Sam Derrick
Class of 2010 – Philosophy, Economics
University of Pittsburgh School of Law
In-House Attorney for Genesis Systems

Participating in Forensics was both the most rewarding and beneficial thing I did while I was a student at Lafayette.  My time in debate taught me how to take a collection of words – be it a philosophical text by Plato or a scathing dissent by Scalia – and understand the flow and structure of the arguments they were building. Nothing could be more valuable to a philosophy major or to a lawyer. In law school I encountered hundreds of judicial opinions, law review texts, and attorney briefs. No matter what the subject matter of each was, I could feel confident in my understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the positions being presented. This was a HUGE advantage over other law students who did not have a background in forensics.

Joe Dudek
Class of 2009 – Mathematics, Philosophy
Columbia Law School

Speech and Debate taught me about the world in such a rich and robust way that classwork became almost trivial by comparison; the day-to-day mechanics of being a student became easier.  Forensics made the rest of my academic experience at Lafayette better and I believe I am better for it.

Teevrat Garg
Class of 2010 – Math, Economics
PhD Candidate in Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University

Forensics has served me well in graduate school and professional presentations where the ability to engage one’s audience sets one apart.

Joshua Geesey
Class of 2013 – Government and Law

The time commitment for forensics may appear severe, but said commitment should not be viewed as a purely negative aspect of the activity. Putting energy into forensics forces you to become quite good at properly prioritizing coursework. Moreover, the research and communication skills developed in Forensics can be directly applied to coursework, particularly when writing papers or giving a presentation.

Erik Heins
Class of 2005 – Government and Law, Philosophy
New York University School of Law

No matter your career or life goals, learning to articulate your thoughts in a coherent manner, on your feet, and under pressure will be an asset.  These are exactly the skills you will learn through the competition with the Lafayette Forensics Society.  At work and at home, I see the benefits of my time on the Forensics team every single day.  But its not all hard work and skill development…you’ll meet a slew of great people who may become your closest friends during your years at Lafayette, or for decades thereafter.

Kim Herget Moore
Class of 2005 – Psychology, Music (minor)
Masters of Statistics at the University of Utah
Statistician for the Utah Cancer Registry

In my career, I still am thankful for my time on the Forensics team. I do a lot of academic research now, where I not only am responsible for conducting literature reviews, but I also write papers and reports and I present research at conferences.  I also have to relay my statistics (which can be quite technical) in an easy to understand way to a large variety of groups, some with limited knowledge of the subject I’m talking about. All of these things are skills that I developed while competing with the Lafayette Forensics team.

James Hilbert
Class of 2011 – Engineering, Mathematics
PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

My boss has told me and several of our clients, multiple times, that the best decision she ever made was to hire a debater.

Christina Hunt
Class of 2011 – Government and Law
Masters in Education, University of Pennsylvania
Teacher, Fairfax (Va.) County Public Schools

The most important lesson I learned, which was not easily taught, was to always stretch beyond my comfort zone.  As a teacher of sassy 10 and 11 year olds, half of my day consists of limited preparation explanations or arguments. Without my experience on the Forensics team, teaching a classroom of students would have seemed too great an obstacle to surmount, but instead, I have my dream job.

Megan Jones
Class of 2011 – French, Policy Studies
MBA, Fox School of Business and Management at Temple University
Project Manager for AXA France

I’ve worked as an English teacher in rural France.  Because of Forensics, I not only had the ability to be a good teacher but I also had insight into France as part of a global system.  More importantly, though, I wasn’t afraid to roll up my sleeves and step out of my comfort zone

Rachel Korpanlee
Class of 2003 – History
MA in History from George Mason University

My three years on the Lafayette Forensics Team brought me amazing experiences. I made friendships that have lasted years post-graduation, and traveled to some really cool places. I gained confidence and eloquence, *and* learned how to properly wear a suit (a useful skill). My events were Interp; presentation of published drama, prose and poetry. This isn’t quite “acting”, but it helped my acting craft immeasurably. Most importantly, I learned to approach acting and characterization differently; to be able to see and become a character without relying on stagecraft. This ability has served me well in my college and post-college acting and writing careers

Jane Liu
Class of 2013 – Economics, Government and Law
Revenue Coordinator at Hershey Entertainment

When I first joined the speech team, I was looking for something interesting and fun to do as an extracurricular activity. Of course I knew that public speaking skills could help me in my every day life, but it was only when I started going on job interviews senior year when I realized just how essential being on the speech team was in order for me to land that first career-defining job.  My personal experiences taught me what I needed to say when I went on interviews, but my forensics training taught me how to say it.

Bill O’Brien
Class of 2007 – History
Certified Public Accountant

Many years have passed since my graduation from Lafayette College.  I am engaged to be married while working at one of the most prestigious accounting firms in the world. Finding my way through this path has been a long road full of hard work. I know it will be a road well traveled thanks to my forensics experience.

Amy (Solomito) Owen
Class of 2009 – English
Quinnipiac University School of Law
Judicial Law Clerk, Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas

While at Lafayette and in law school, my coursework involved a lot of writing, and my professors consistently commented on how succinctly I communicated my arguments.  This quality in my writing stemmed from my participation in forensics, in which the speeches I prepared had to fit within the ten minute time limit, regardless of the complexity of the topic.

Jennifer Rusak
Class of 2004 – Psychology, Philosophy
PhD in Psychology

I earned PhD in psychology 2011.  Thanks to Forensics I have found myself at a unique advantage to address the myriad challenges of both the workforce and academia.  Thanks to Forensics, I’m not just a good researcher, I am able to take the raw materials of research and put them together into coherent narratives.  Thanks to Forensics, I’m not just “good at arguing,” I can decipher, dissect, and adopt others’ points of view in such a way that I have found myself time and time again to be one of the few in the room that really “gets” what another person is saying and can effectively communicate with them.  Thanks to Forensics, I’m not just a good speaker, I am a confident and comfortable teacher, an ability that has served me well in so many settings, from intimate meetings to conference rooms to college classrooms (as a student as well as instructor). In short, the skills I acquired from Forensics have been greatly influential in nearly every single aspect of my academic and professional post-Lafayette career; my thanks to Forensics!

Samantha Sangenito
Class of 2012 – Interdisciplinary (Art and Economics)
Public Relations and Project Management Associate, Fleischman, Gerber and Associates

I absolutely believe that participating in Forensics in the single most beneficial thing you can do! To be honest, I am pretty sure the skills I learned through Forensics have been more important in my career than anything I learned in a classroom.

Beth Wehler
Class of 2009 – Mathematics, Economics and Business
Masters in Public Health
Health economics consultant for IMS Health

Every job interview I have been on since graduating from Lafayette College has resulted in at least one person asking me to tell them more about my speech and debate experience.  Public speaking and communication skills are at a premium.  I have delivered in-person presentations of my work for senior staff at some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world.  I have written scientific abstracts and manuscripts, and I have presented my team’s research at several international conferences.   Speech and debate forces you to think about how to present information logically, concisely and to do so in an engaging way.   In the business setting having these skills puts you above and beyond your competition and other job candidates.

Angela Wnek
Class of 2013 – Chemical Engineering, Economics (minor)
Procurement Associate at ExxonMobil

Joining Forensics at Lafayette was one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only did I enjoy learning, competing, and meeting new people, but it provided me with transferrable skills in both the classroom and the office.