Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
by Gina Sanchez, 2018 NSDA National Student of the Year Finalist
Growing up in a small town in rural New Mexico, my voice and impact felt small as well. I was always passionate and driven about knowledge; but I did not have the slightest clue about how to cultivate my desires as a young Hispanic girl trying to navigate a modern American world.
When I found speech and debate my freshman year, I never looked back. I knew then it would change my life. However, I could not have predicted to what degree. I could not have predicted the profound impact it would have on helping me cultivate and articulate my beliefs, the passion it would instill in me to inspire my community and young girls like me, or the power that I found within myself to not only speak eloquently but listen just as effectively.
Through speech and debate I found a home with all the best qualities: acceptance, support, and compassion from judges, peers, and most importantly my coaches. Speech and debate taught me to be brave and as a result is the reason I am able to voice my opinions without fear of judgement. This one-of-a-kind activity ultimately has the ability to make anyone’s voice heard regardless of their identity. The journey that was my four years in speech and debate will forever be the most transformative experience of my life, and the most transformative experience of countless others.