FC Alumnus Takes Speech and Debate to New Heights

Fullerton College alum Joseph Phillips knows a little about persuasive debate. Before transferring to California State University, Maritime Academy earlier this year the former FC Forensics Speech and Debate member persuaded a group of students at Cal Maritime to start up their own speech and debate team, which is now competing with Phillips as their de facto coach.

“While I was still at FC, I told my brother, Jeremy, who was already attending CSUM that I was weary of going to a school without a debate program and suggested that we start one,” said Joseph Phillips. “We worked together to draft the club documents and had CSUM join NEDA, the National Educational Debate Association, before I arrived.”

The rookie debate team now has 10 members and is expected to grow to 15 by spring 2017 thanks to Phillips’ leadership. The team competed in tournaments at Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton earlier this fall and is expected to compete at several other national competitions in the spring.

“We’re really proud of Joe,” said FC debate coach and speech Professor Doug Kresse. “He built a team at CSUM out of nothing – which is nothing short of miraculous.”

Phillips credits Fullerton College’s Speech and Debate program, and Kresse for being the driving force behind his success in school.
“When I started attending Fullerton College I had recently moved from Louisiana and had never been to college before. I was five years removed from high school and I had no idea what to expect,” he said. “Upon meeting Doug Kresse and teammates like Zach Turner, Michael Wu, and Kitiny Phumchun, I knew I had found my place.”

Phillips said through his participation in debate, he learned research methods for essays, public speaking for class presentations and more. “Most of all, debate put me in touch with the campus community. Instead of simply going to school, taking classes, and going home, I was suddenly staying a little later, meeting new people, and learning new things on campus,” Phillips said. “Speech and debate gave me a reason to be proud of my academics.”

While at Fullerton College, Phillips earned speaker and team awards at numerous tournaments, including First Speaker and Novice Team Policy Debate National Champion in 2015. Phillips was presented with the NEDA All American Debater Award in 2016. His positive experience at FC motivated him to give students at Cal Maritime similar experiences. “Being on Fullerton College’s team was like being a part of a family. I intend on trying to create the same environment at Cal Maritime,” he said.

As the team’s president and de facto coach, his goal is to market the benefits of participating in speech and debate to the entire university campus, which is currently only a club and doesn’t accompany an academic course like that of Fullerton College’s team. He hopes that with the university’s support, the club will expand into a more competitive model and that the university will create courses for Speech and Debate, and Model United Nations, an educational simulation and/or academic competition in which students learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations.
“Joe is a role model of good manners, he is humble, and goes out of his way to serve others,” Kresse said. “His commitment to take what he learned at FC and share it with students at Cal Maritime is the sort of thing you could make a movie out of.”

Phillips earned an Associate Degree for Transfer in Communication Studies at FC. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in global studies and maritime affairs with the intent of attending law school.

During the year, FC’s Forensics Speech and Debate Team compete successfully against schools such as Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, and other four-year public and private universities. Speech 138F, Forensics, is offered at Fullerton College as a transferable course and trains students to participate in intercollegiate speech tournaments.

“Debate is something that literally anyone on campus has the ability to succeed in,” Phillips said.

For more information on how to participate in Fullerton College Forensics, contact the Humanities Division at 714-992-7036.

Author: Fullerton College

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