Fullerton College is known for many things; the largest enrollment in the nation, a top-notch sports programs, a highly regarded fine arts programs, a very active S.T.E.M. program and the list can go on.
Inside the 500 building lies a room most students would just walk by unless taking a speech class to fulfill a general education requirement. However, at certain times this very room hosts a group of students passionate about perfecting their craft of debating.
The Fullerton College Forensics Speech and Debate team is often overlooked by many students.
The team consists of roughly 20 students all ranging from a variety of different majors ranging from business, communications, political science, criminology and so forth. The team is not to be mistaken as a club, it is a SPCH 138 class taught and led by instructor Doug Kresse.
“We refine a person’s ability to communicate in writing, speaking and we help with analyzing and researching skills,” Kresse said.
A passionate energy can be sensed off of Kresse, his demeanor and personality show a positive character that truly cares for the well being of his students.
The forensics team has been active and involved in competing in tournaments since 2008.
Compared to most colleges, FC’s team can be considered a young. Most forensics teams have been around for decades and some even centuries.
This “young” team, has shown that it has the caliber to compete against universities such as Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and Ball State University.
The forensics team was named Outstanding New Program for 2015 at the National Educational Debate Association’s national championship along with winning first place in the national title for Novice Debate along with second overall in Team Sweepstakes.
In FC’s 101-year history, this is the first time its competed at a National debate and the first time winning a national championship.
Fullerton sent six students to Dayton, Ohio for the national championship. Each student placed no lower than fourth in his or her respective events, which is unheard of according to Kresse.
Kresse adds that what makes the win more remarkable is that each student has no more than a year experience and are competing against college seniors with at least eight years of experience at notable universities.
“Academically we are stacking up against universities, competing against them and beating them,” Kresse said. “It should make us feel good that we are getting a quality education.”
In addition to winning nationals and being named “Outstanding New Program”, Fullerton College will co-host the national championships next spring with CSUF, another honor that Kresse feels would be great for the school.
Team members Michael Wu and Sarah Benedict placed fourth in Open Debate, they consider it an honor to have represented their school and are proud of their teammates accomplishments.
“Our program is small but it’s the people in the program, the students here at Fullerton that make our program great,” Benedict said.
It’s easy to sense the closeness of the two as they describe their team as a family that trains and grows together. Wu believes that the success of the group being able to replicate numerous wins throughout this semester’s tournaments stems from the team’s curiosity.
“We’re all very globally curious and it’s that curiosity that leads to everything that we have been able to do,” Wu said.
Wu and Benedict added that it doesn’t take experience to join the forensics team, it just takes someone who is passionate and is willing to work hard.
“We want to represent the school well, it [winning nationals] shows that we are building credibility and it reflects well on our program and the whole school,” Kresse said. “It shows that we are an institution that has academic excellence and that is a booster for all of our students.”