Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team recently competed at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association (TIFA) Spring Championship tournament, held at Texas State University in San Marcos. The team won fourth overall sweepstakes in speech and debate combined.

Freshman Rishona Raub, Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, communication and social work major from Celina, advanced to finals in extemporaneous speaking, winning fifth place overall.

In parliamentary debate, two of the top 10 debate speakers were from HPU. Parker Brown, Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and jurisprudence major from Fairfax County, Virginia, placed seventh and Raub placed ninth.

In IPDA debate, HPU also had two of the top 10 speakers. Devin Schurman, Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, communication and public policy major from San Antonio, placed seventh. Esmeralda Maldonado, senior communication and jurisprudence major from Whitney, placed eighth.

Also placing and earning points for the team was the interpretive duo team of Alex Mendoza, sophomore theatre major from Bangs, and Rayden Hicks, freshman communication and youth ministry major from San Angelo. The pair placed fifth overall with their dramatic duo interpretation piece.

Dr. Julie Welker, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication, coaches the team.

“I’m very proud of our young team,” she said. “All of our debate teams had strong records during prelims and our students all competed very well in individual events. Rishona advancing in extemp was outstanding.”

Dr. Welker applauded the team members on their diligence.

“Each of our team members receives a scholarship for competing on the team,” she said. “They work very hard to earn these rankings and I’m excited about the coming years for this team.”

HPU competed against 18 colleges and universities from Texas and Mississippi.

The HPU speech and debate team will travel to Grove City, Pennsylvania, later this month, to compete in the National Christian College Forensics Association national tournament.