It is a Tuesday night, and senior Jacob Kirksey gets up to speak. The motion to amend the U.S. Constitution would prohibit any involvement by religious organizations in electoral processes; Kirksey is opposing it.
Kirksey was recently named an All-American in Forensics by Phi Kappa Delta, which is an organization that aims to “cultivate articulate citizenship through the promotion of ethical, humane, and inclusive” Speech and Debate programs across college campuses. The All-American awards are given to those with outstanding abilities in forensics, strong academic backgrounds, and a devotion to service in their communities. Kirksey embodies all three qualifications.
When considering Colorado College as a prospective student, Kirksey thought about the role Speech and Debate would play in his life on campus. He describes himself as shy in high school, and debate was a chance to claim the spotlight, despite his introversion.
“Speech and Debate provided an immediate tie to the real world on subjects that actually mattered,” said Kirksey. “Adjusting to speech and debate at CC was a test of my individual grit, especially on the block plan, to be able to be as nationally competitive.”
He deeply values Speech and Debate as “a platform for more cultural awareness and new experiences,” as he is able to travel and “compete with people from all different kinds of circuits.” He has traveled with the CC Speech and Debate Program to New York, California, and Florida and looks forward to competing in Scotland later this year.
“Throughout my volunteering experiences, I recognized the need for intervention as most arts programs that exist are generally in richer schools despite the inherent emotional needs for the arts in all demographics,” he said.
In response to this, what began as an LLC project eventually involved into his Kids Are Dramatic theatre company. Kirksey believes that “Speech and Debate is all about creating agency,” which is why Kids Are Dramatic works beyond the CC campus to empower students at Title I public schools. The program also provides these students with an opportunity to step beyond simply recognizing problems to proposing solutions.
“Speech and Debate has been one of the hardest things [I’ve] ever done, but you immediately see results,” said Kirksey. “You get anything and everything and more out of what you put into it.”
As he prepares to start his PhD program next fall, Kirksey calls the All-American award a huge honor and considers the role Speech and Debate will play in his life beyond college. “Speech and Debate ages you intellectually; it forces you to grasp problems,” Kirksey said.