March 4, 2020

Mesa’s Speech and Debate Team Goes National in Award-Winning 2019-2020 Season

By Office of Communications

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The Olympian Speech and Debate team is living up to its reputation as a competitive, award-winning force. After competing in four tournaments during the fall, and a fifth this semester, the Mesa Speech and Debate Team has racked up numerous titles and awards. They have been working hard and achieving success at competitions across the nation, including in New York, where Mesa students Franklin McKenzie and Katya Azzam garnered a well-earned parliamentary debate win against Ivy League Cornell University’s team (see below for a full list of achievements).

The Speech and Debate Team kicked off their 2019-2020 season last semester with a tournament at San Diego State University over the Nov. 5-6 weekend. Since it was early in the competition year, the small but mighty team of 5 members worked hard to prepare their events for competition. They made Mesa proud by winning 3rd place in Individual Events sweepstakes in the Community College Division.

Just two weeks later, the team was off to a tournament at Grossmont College over the Nov. 23-24 weekend. With a growing team, Mesa students competed against teams from California to Utah and Texas, and won 3rd place sweepstakes. Many team members had the opportunityto participate in their first ever tournament and ultimately helped the team win top honors across all divisions of debate.

The last tournaments of the fall occurred over the Dec. 7-8 weekend, with one team competing on the West Coast at the PSCFA Fall Championships in Moorpark, and the other traveling to Long Island, New York to the Nassau/Hofstra “Off Broadway Swing.” The New York team participated in two separate tournaments that weekend, which included 3 different types of debate and 14 different individual events. Mesa College won 3rd place overall for community colleges at Nassau, and 2nd place Overall sweepstakes (among both 2- and 4-year schools), 1st place sweepstakes for Debate, and 1st place in the Community College Division at the Hofstra University Swing.

Mesa’s Speech and Debate team is poised to continue their path of strong wins into the spring semester. They already competed at the Cerritos College tournament last weekend, and came home with a 1st place sweepstakes trophy. The team will be competing in the PSCFA Spring Championships, Pi Kappa Delta National Championships at San Diego State University, and Phi Rho Pi Nationals in New Mexico later this month. They will wrap up the season with the PSCFA Cool-off tournament in late April followed by their annual Showcase. Mesa’s Speech and Debate Team has set a precedent for success, and we wish them well as they continue their winning streak on a national level.

For more information on the Speech and Debate team and how to get involved, contact Dr. Kim Perigo at or Professor Das Nugent-Odasso at For information on the Communications Studies Program, visit the Communications Studies page.


PSCFA Championship 2020


Achievements in Debate


Gold Medal Winners

Franklin McKenzie & Katya Azzam (Off Broadway Swing)


Silver Medal Winners

Katya Azzam & Franklin Mckenzie – Varsity (Grossmont College Tournament)

Rob Levine & Ricky Lopez – Novice (Grossmont College Tournament)

Malik Shabazz & Veda Farmer – Novice (Grossmont College Tournament)

Trevor Harris & Leah Martinez-Noyes – Novice (Grossmont College Tournament)

Claire Kemsley & Ryann Mazzola – Novice (Grossmont College Tournament)

Stephanie Smith-Baptiste & Heather Comfort – Novice (Cerritos College Tournament)

Mariah Naea & Lindsay Hyacinthe-Pierre – Novice (Cerritos College Tournament)


Bronze Medal Winners

Katya Azzam & Franklin McKenzie – Varsity (Cerritos College Tournament)


Top Speakers in Debate

Franklin McKenzie was awarded Top Speaker (Off Broadway Swing)

Katya Azzam was 2nd Speaker (Off Broadway Swing)


Achievements in Individual Events


First Place

Blake Hindrichs in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking (SDSU Tournament)

Mervielle Kouekabakilho in Novice Informative Speaking (SDSU Tournament)

Katya Azzam in Varsity Communication Analysis (Grossmont College Tournament)

Heather Comfort in Informative Speaking (Grossmont College Tournament)


Second Place

Stephanie Smith-Baptiste in Novice Programmed Oral Interpretation of Literature (PSCFA Fall Championships)

Stephanie Smith-Baptiste in Programmed Oral Interpretation (Cerritos College Tournament)


Third Place

Mariah Naea in Prose Interpretive Speaking (Grossmont College Tournament)

Rob Levine in Persuasive Speaking (Grossmont College)

Katya Azzam in Communication Analysis (Off Broadway Swing)

Stephanie Smith-Baptiste in Novice International Public Debate (PSCFA Fall Championships)

Heather Comfort in Junior Drama Interpretation (PSCFA Fall Championships)

Mariah Naea in novice Programmed Oral Interpretation (Cerritos College Tournament)



Jessica Almario in Novice Prose Interpretive Speaking (Grossmont College Tournament)

Katya Azzam in Varsity Communication Analysis (5th place) (Cerritos College Tournament)

Rob Levine in Novice Persuasive Speaking (6th place) (Off Broadway Swing)

Jessica Almario in Novice Prose Interpretation (Cerritos College Tournament)


 speech and debate group photo

Tags: Communication Studies, Speech and Debate, Dr. Kim Perigo

Additional Information


Jennifer Nichols Kearns
Director of Communications
(619) 388-2759