College of DuPage speech and debate team celebrates national competition awards

The College of DuPage Speech and Debate Team recently completed the competitive season at the weeklong Phi Rho Pi Community National Tournament with eight students earning 10 national awards, including three gold medals.

Winners include Damian Rocha (second year), bronze in Communication Analysis; Mercedes Kulak (second year), bronze in Impromptu Speaking; Bernadette Vibora (second year), bronze in Dramatic Interpretation and winner of the 2024 Warren-Dahlin Student Fellowship Award; Natalie Orsic (second year), gold in Communication Analysis and bronze in Parliamentary Debate, Ryan Umare (second year), gold in Communication Analysis; Katie Young (first year); bronze in Impromptu Speaking; Sarah Kaufman (first year), gold in Communication Analysis and bronze in Extemporaneous; and Livi Jotautus (first year), bronze in Speech to Entertain.

Non-advancing team members include Nathan George (second year); Izabella Cabadas (second year); Ava Jotautus (first year); and Jake Pool (first year).

Throughout the season, 30 students collectively participated in and competed with the team, traveling to 13 tournaments and earning more than 100 individual awards and 15 team awards between October and April.

The College of DuPage Speech and Debate Team is coached by Kacy Abeln and Brandon Wood. Team members conduct oral interpretation, public speaking and reader’s theater. For more information or to join, contact Kacy Abeln at

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