March 6, 2018
Winning the top overall collegiate speaker award in Pennsylvania for the sixth year in a row, the West Chester University Forensics Team vied for top honors at the Pennsylvania Forensic Association State Speech and Debate Championship held Feb. 17–18 at Bloomsburg University.
Rebeka Yocum, a senior Honors physics major from Northumberland, won Top Speaker — for the third time in four years — by placing first in Rhetorical Criticism, first in After-Dinner Speaking, first in Dramatic Interpretation, and first in Duo Interpretation with her partner Sigfried Aragona, who was the second place speaker overall at the tournament. Yocum also placed third in Prose Interpretation. Aragona, a senior Honors nursing major from Lansdale, also placed first in Program Oral Interpretation, second in Dramatic Interpretation, and second in Poetry Interpretation.
The team's two seniors led a roster of current and up and coming championship speakers, including Alexandra (Alex) Moore, a first-year Honors communication sciences and disorders major from Billings, MT, who won first place in Extemporaneous Speaking and third place in Informative Speaking. Abriana Gonzalez, a sophomore communication studies major from Elkins Park, placed second in Persuasive Speaking, earning her a highly coveted invitation to the Interstate Oratorical Contest in April. The contest is the oldest continuously running national intercollegiate speech or debate competition in the country (more than 140 years) and invites only two students from each state to participate each year. Gonzalez also placed fourth in Dramatic Interpretation. Anna Hewitt, sophomore Honors nursing major from Downingtown placed fourth in Poetry Interpretation. Jackie Sherman, first year Honors accounting major from Newtown, placed fourth in Persuasive Speaking. Khabeera Calaman, a master's degree candidate in social work, serves as graduate assistant for the team.
The team finished in second place overall behind friendly rivals St. Joseph's University. The state championship was also WCU Director of Forensics Mark Hickman’s last as the Pennsylvania Forensic Association Executive Secretary and Tournament Director. Hickman opted not to run for re-election to another term given his plan to retire at the end of next year.
WCU Forensics, which is housed in the Honors College, is open to all undergraduate students in good academic standing from across the University. "We are very proud of the fact that our team of champions represents a cross section of the University's colleges and majors," said Hickman. For more information, contact Hickman.